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Making an Impact: Tracking Your Research Metrics

Learn strategies for assessing the impact of your research with this step-by-step guide to research metrics

Using Research Metrics

You can use research metrics to:


Assert your value, benchmark your career progress, communicate more effectively

Three Points to Keep in Mind

  • Research metrics don't replace traditional ways of assessing research impact (e.g. peer review, research funding, practical application, etc.); they simply provide additional data to make impact assessments more accurate and meaningful.  
  • Research metrics must be considered in context; any direct comparisons should be made carefully. A researcher's field of study, as well as her career length will greatly affect the citations and attention her work receives.
  • Research metrics are not universal; they are limited to the dataset from which they are drawn. Citation counts in Google Scholar and Web of Science will differ. Plum Metrics tracks different data than Impact Story. Always include the source of any impact metrics you are reporting.

Assert Your Value

Research metrics can be used to enhance your CV and supplement your grant proposals and tenure/promotion packages. While not appropriate in all situations, administrators and granting agencies are becoming increasingly interested in research metrics as a quantitative measure of a researcher's impact.

The most common metrics included in CVs are:

  • Article-level citation counts
  • Author-level h-index
  • Impact factor of publishing journals


Tips for Including Research Metrics in CVs

  • Always provide the source of the metrics (e.g. Web of Science, Google Scholar, Journal Citation Reports, etc.)
  • Avoid wall-to-wall metrics. Instead, highlight particular successes and provide context when appropriate. 
  • Update regularly.  Research metrics around your work will change over time.  Make sure you are submitting the most recent data.

Benchmark Your Career Progress

Research metrics can be helpful tools for setting professional goals and tracking your career progress. Reviewing the research metrics of the leading authors in a given field can be a valuable exercise for new researchers looking to set clear and measurable benchmarks on the path to career successes.


Tips for Using Research Metrics for Benchmarking

  • Focus on your own research field.  Citation activity varies greatly across disciplines.
  • Find successful researchers at various points in their careers (i.e. two years, five years, 30 years, etc.), and check your progress regularly.
  • Consider a variety of metrics (including altmetrics). Don't get hung up on h-index. Impact is best understood holistically.  

Communicate Your Research Findings More Effectively

Understanding research metrics allows you to adopt a more strategic approach when communicating your research findings. This, in turn, will increase the reach and impact of your research.


Tips for Communicating Your Research Findings

  • Consult journal impact factors when deciding which journals to submit to. The higher the impact factor, the more likely your research will be seen and used by other researchers.
  • Use social media (e.g. Twitter, ResearchGate) to communicate your research findings to the world and direct eyes to your publications.