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Measuring Research Impact in the Sciences

An overview of tools for measuring journal and author metrics

What is Meant by Research Impact?

Your research could hold influence in many different areas. Some publications may have varying degrees of academic, societal or economic impact.

Academic impact: Advances in knowledge, discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning.

Societal impact: Benefits to individuals, communities and nations by improving quality of life, health, and the effectiveness of public services and policies.

Economic impact: Stimulating economic growth, and enhancing competitiveness, locally, regionally and nationally.

You may be asked to reflect on the impact of your research for the following reasons:

  • Promotion, tenure and employment opportunities
  • Grants
  • Investigations into how your work is being utilized
  • Keeping track of proper use and citation of your work

There are multiple levels, with tools at each level, at which you and your work can be assessed.

Journal Impact measures the influence of a journal, and the most well-known measurement of this is the Impact Factor.

Author Impact measures the influence of a particular researcher in their field based on their publications. The most well-known measure of this is the H-Index.

Article Impact/Altmetrics attempt to measure the impact of particular articles through tracking various data. Plum Analytics and Altmetric are the two most well-known products to allow this type of tracking.


The content of this guide is based largely on work previously done by Kathryn Houk at Tufts Hirsh Health Sciences Libraries, and on the updated version of this work in their current research guides.