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Measuring Research Quality and Impact - Research Guide


Measuring Research Quality and Impact

The activity of measuring and describing the quality and impact of academic research is increasingly important in Australia and around the world. Applications for grant funding or career advancement may require an indication of both the quantity of your research output and of the quality of your research.

Research impact measurement may be calculated using researcher specific metrics such as the h-index, or by quantitative methods such as citation counts or journal impact factors. This type of measurement is also referred to as bibliometrics.

This guide provides information on a range of bibliometrics including citation metrics, alternative metrics, researcher impact, journal quality and impact, book quality and impact, and university rankings.

Key Terms and Definitions

Altmetrics - Altmetrics (alternative metrics) are qualitative data that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics (bibliometrics), including citations in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, bookmarks on reference managers, and mentions on social media.

Author identifiers - Author identifiers are unique identifiers that distinguish individual authors from other researchers and unambiguously associate an author with their work. 

Bibliometrics - Bibliometrics is the quantitative analysis of traditional academic literature, such as books, book chapters, conference papers or journal articles, to determine quality and impact.

Cited reference search - A cited reference search allows you to use appropriate library resources and citation indexes to search for works that cite a particular publication.

Citation index - A citation index is an index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which later documents cite which earlier documents.

Citation report - A citation report is a compilation of the bibliographic details for all of the publications a researcher has authored, along with the number of times those publications have been cited and any relevant author metrics.

Citation - A reference to or quotation from a publication or author, especially in a scholarly work.

CiteScore - CiteScore is a measure of an academic journal's impact and quality that analyses the number of citations received by a journal in one year to publications published in the three previous years, divided by the number of publications indexed in Scopus published in those same three years.

CNCI - The Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI) of a document is calculated by dividing an actual citation count by an expected citation rate for documents with the same document type, year of publication, and subject area, therefore creating an unbiased indicator of impact irrespective of age, subject focus, or document type.

FWCI - The field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) is an author metric which compares the total citations actually received by a researcher's publications to the average number of citations received by all other similar publications from the same research field.

h-index - The h-index is an author metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of an author. A researcher with an index of h has published h papers, each of which has been cited in other papers at least h times.

Impact metrics - Impact metrics are quantitative analyses of the impact of research output, using a comprehensive set of measurement tools. Impact metrics include traditional citation metrics, altmetrics, measures of researcher impact, measures of publication quality and impact, and institutional benchmarking and ranking.

Journal rankings - Journal rankings are used to evaluate an academic journal's impact and quality. Journal rankings measure the place of a journal within its research field, the relative difficulty of being published in that journal, and the prestige associated with it.

Measures of esteem - Measures of esteem are additional factors which may provide evidence of research quality, including awards and prizes, membership of professional or academic organisations, research fellowships, patents or other commercial output, international collaborations, and successfully completed research grants or projects.

SJR - SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is a measure of an academic journal's impact and quality that analyses both the number of citations received by a journal and the prestige of the journals in which these citations occur.

SNIP - Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) is a measure of an academic journal's impact and quality that analyses contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field.


Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics (DOAJ) - publishes rigorously peer-reviewed research on the development, applications, and evaluation of scholarly metrics, including bibliometric, scientometric, informetric, and altmetric studies.

Metrics Toolkit (RMIT) - a resource for researchers and evaluators that provides guidance for demonstrating and evaluating claims of research impact. 

Research Metrics Quick Reference (Elsevier) - a consolidated quick reference to some key research impact metrics.

Using Bibliometrics: A Guide to Evaluating Research Performance with Citation Data 2015 (Thomson Reuters) - A guide to evaluating research performance for researchers, universities and libraries.

Research Support

Researchers at Murdoch University are supported by the Library and the Research and Innovation Office.

Ask our Librarians for advice on measuring research quality and impact.