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Publication metrics are viewpoints that can be used to assess the impact, influence and attention received by research outputs.

New technologies have allowed for new measures to be developed. This page outlines some of the main metrics available, why they are important and how you can access more information and guidance.

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Traditional publication metrics

Traditional publication metrics tools aim to track citations to individual articles and impact factors for academic journals. Data is collected in a way that can be interpreted as a measure of the research performance and evaluation of both academic researchers and academic institutions. Journal impact factors have been used as a measure of journal importance. More recently established journals may not have accrued high impact factors.

Specific tools which gather data on citations that could be used for analysis and citation mapping include:

  • the h-index  

  • Web of Science’s Science Citation Index  & Journal of Citation Reports

  • Google Scholar.

The h-index is a calculation of the number of publications by an author related to the number of times cited - for example, a h-index of 7 means the researcher has 7 publications that have been cited at least 7 times by other researchers, and so on. This can be used as a measure of productivity and impact, but may favour more established researchers. Systems will usually generate a h-index based on the corpus of papers known to the system, and so a h-index in Google Scholar may differ from a h-index in Web of Science.

St George’s subscriptions to metric tools

St George’s, University of London subscribes to Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports as well as InCites Essential Science Indicators. The publisher, Clarivate Analytics, provide a range of guides and training on these resources, where you can find information on the citation network and the h-index . For information about Journal Citation Reports, including impact factors, see Learn the Basics.


For more information on accessing and using these resources contact the library on

Alternative metrics or activity (altmetrics)

There is an increasing variety of dissemination activity by researchers, such as social media (blogging, tweeting etc.) and deposit in institutional repositories. This activity is based more around sharing than the traditional citing of articles.

Altmetric scores which measure the attention research attracts via such online platforms as blogs, twitter and news sites can be commonly found on the records of research outputs, for instance in open access repositories, and CRIS systems [link to Library CRIS and SORA page]. 

The Dimensions database offers a free portal which contains a Dimensions badge on records which visualises four main citation metrics (total citation count, recent citation count, Field Citation Ratio or FCR, and Relative Citation Ratio or RCR).

There are article level metrics such as those developed by PLOS, download counts for outputs held in repositories, and platforms such as Kudos and Impact Story can help researchers share and explore the online impact of their research.

Responsible metrics

Funders, researchers and publishers have been seeking to create an environment where metrics about a researcher and their outputs are viewed in a more holistic and balanced way, rather than a focus on narrow view given by limited metrics, such as journal impact factor. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (referred to as DORA) sets out a statement of intent and some guiding principles. St George’s, University of London is a signatory to DORA.

More information on how St George’s is implementing these principles can be found on our responsible research assessment webpage.

Where can I get help on using social media to help promote & disseminate my research?

The University's External relations, communications and marketing team have developed  Social Media Guidelines to get you started.

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