Skip to Main Content

Measuring Your Research Impact

Research Impact

What is Research Impact?

Impact is the "demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy." This occurs in many ways – through creating and sharing new knowledge and innovation; inventing groundbreaking new products, companies and jobs; developing new and improving existing public services and policy; enhancing quality of life and health; and many more. -(UKRI).

Reasons to consider measuring your research impact:

  • Strengthen your application for promotion or tenure
  • Measure the return on research investment for grant renewals
  • Show the value of your research for possible future funding
  • Ascertain that your research is properly credited and who is using it
  • Identify collaborators within or outside of your discipline
  • Benchmark yourself, your department or your institution
  • Show your productivity
  • Determine how other researchers have cited your work
  • Highlight your network of collaborators
  • Tell your story about the impact of your scholarly work

Important Note: Measuring research impact will vary across disciplines. The limitations of publication metrics and their applicability to different academic fields can make cross-disciplinary use of metrics problematic. And no single metric can comprehensively reflect research assessment for any field. Check with experts and colleagues in your discipline or field to determine which measures of impact are appropriate.

For more information or assistance, schedule a meeting with your liaison librarian to help you identify your research impact.

Impact Measures

Common Measures of Research Impact


  • Author Metrics: These provide an assessment of the impact the author has on his/her field of study. Some common metrics include the h-index, the g-index, and Google Scholar measures.
  • Article Metrics: These quantify the impact of published articles; the impact of an article is evaluated by counting the number of times other authors cite it in their work. Some tools to capture article metrics are altmetrics, ImpactStory, Plum Analytics, and PLOS.
  • Journal Metrics: Used to determine the impact a journal has on the field of study, like the scientific community. These metrics include Journal Impact Factor, Eigenfactor, SCImago Journal Rank, and Article Influence score.


  • Altmetrics - Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, are digital environment measures that help determine a scholar's research impact.  These include mentions in social media.


Challenges and limitations to keep in mind when researching your scholarly impact:

The research process is complex

  • Cited reference searching is labor-intensive. For help identifying the best cited reference resources and search techniques, talk to your liaison librarian

Duplicate citations

  • Be sure to check for duplicate citations as there is generally some overlap in journal coverage among library and other resources.

Limited formats in research databases

  • Some core research databases index only articles from journals. This means that cited references included in books, book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations, technical reports, and international publications can sometimes be excluded from a database's total citation count.

Author ambiguity

  • Cited author searches are made difficult by variation in format (differences among citation styles, publishers, databases, etc). For example, many indexes will read Joan Smith and John Smith as the same author: Smith, J
  • It is recommended to use the same variation of your name consistently throughout your publishing career. This enhances retrieval capability across multiple resources. If you have a fairly common name, consider adding your middle name or initial to distinguish it from others with the same name. For example, Adam S. Young instead of Adam Young.