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Publishing your Research

This guide contains information about choosing a journal, predatory publishing, author rights, and research impact.

Introduction to Publication Metrics

Publication metrics are measures of productivity/performance, quality, and impact/influence based on publication data and social or public engagement activity. They can be used to help you decide which journal to submit your article to, increase your research visibility, and convey your contribution to the research field. Metrics tell a story.

There is no single tool that measures the impact of all journals, articles, and/or authors across all disciplines. Each database offers their own citation analysis for particular journals indexed within that database.

There are a number of important factors to consider when looking at research metrics:

  • The number of times a paper is cited is not a measure of its actual quality.
  • Some tools that measure the impact data do not incorporate books.
  • Certain disciplines have low numbers of journals and usage. One should compare journals or researchers within the same discipline.
  • Review articles are cited more often and can change results.
  • Self-citing may skew results.
  • Most databases do not index gray literature materials, so citations in these materials will not be counted.

Key Definitions

The link below defines many types of metrics. Some key definitions to know are journal impact factor, h-index, altmetrics, and citations/articles.



ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a free persistent identifier (PID) for researchers. By using an ORCID, your research and data will be connected to you.

"People use “ORCID” or “ORCID iD” interchangeably, but what they’re talking about is a 16-digit number and the associated record (sometimes called a profile) that stores automatic links to all your research, and links all your research with you. By allowing trusted organizations to add your research information to your ORCID record, you can spend more time conducting your research and less time managing it."

Research Impact

Metrics for individual articles are generally measured with citation counts. How many times have other articles cited the article in question?

Several databases include citation tracking information. See the next tab for a list of databases that TRU Library subscribes to that have this information. Note that it counts how many times the article was cited within that database, not across all research.

For more information, see the Metrics Toolkit page on articles and citations:


Here are some examples of how this information appears in a few different databases.

Web of Science

Where to find citation count information in Web of Science.

Business Source Complete

Example in business source complete

Sociological Abstracts

example from sociological abstracts

Journal impact measurements reflect the importance of a particular journal in a field and take into account the number of articles published per year and the number of citations to articles published in that journal. This gives the journal impact factor. The number is the average number of citations per publication.

As with many of these research impact measures, impact factors should only be compared within one field--a highly cited journal in one field may be low on citations when compared to another field's average.

For more information about impact factors, including limitations, see the Metrics Toolkit page on impact factor:

Journal Citation Reports is one of the best tools to find out the journal impact factor of many journals. This and other tools are listed below.

The most common way that individual researcher impact is measured is by the h-index. This number is defined with "H" being the number of papers an author has published that have been cited "H" times. For instance, an author with an h-index of 10 has published at least 10 publications that have each been published 10 times each.

The h-Index is only useful for comparing researchers who have a similar career length, similar field and is only a snapshot of a researcher's performance.  Researchers from other disciplines, fields and subject areas can not compare their h-Index.

Here are places you can get your h-index. See the next tab for a list of strengths and shortcomings of the h-index.

Strengths of the h index

  • The h index is a metric for evaluating the cumulative impact of an author’s scholarly output and performance; measures quantity with quality by comparing publications to citations.
  • The h index corrects for the disproportionate weight of highly cited publications or publications that have not yet been cited.
  • Several resources automatically calculate the h index as part of citation reports for authors.

Shortcomings of the h index

  • The h index is a metric to assess the entire body of scholarly output by an author; not intended for a specific timeframe.
  • The h index is insensitive to publications that are rarely cited such as meeting abstracts and to publications that are frequently cited such as reviews.
  • Author name variant issues and multiple versions of the same work pose challenges in establishing accurate citation data for a specific author.
  • The h index does not provide the context of the citations.
  • The h index is not considered a universal metric as it is difficult to compare authors of different seniority or disciplines. Young investigators are at a disadvantage and academic disciplines vary in the average number of publications, references and citations.
  • Self-citations or gratuitous citations among colleagues can skew the h index.
  • The h index will vary among resources depending on the publication data that is included in the calculation of the index.
  • The h index disregards author ranking and co-author characteristics on publications.
  • There are instances of “paradoxical situations” for authors who have the same number of publications, with varying citation counts, but have the same h index. As an example, Author A has eight publications which have been cited a total of 338 times and Author B also has eight publications which have been cited a total of 28 times. Author A and Author B have the same h index of 5 but Author A has a higher citation rate than Author B.

See:  Balaban, A. (2012). Positive and negative aspects of citation indices and journal impact factors. Scientometrics, 92(2), 241-247. doi:10.1007/s11192-012-0637-5

From: “Quantifying the Impact of My Publications” by Washington University in St. Louis Becker Medical Library

Alternative Metrics

Alternative metrics, or altmetrics, are statistics sourced from the social web that can be used to help you understand the many ways that your work has had an impact with other scholars, the public, policy makers, practitioners, and more.

Altmetrics can answer questions such as:

  • How many times was the article downloaded?
  • Who is reading my work? (on Mendeley, bookmarking sites, etc.)
  • Was it covered by any news agencies?
  • Are other researchers commenting on it?
  • How many times was it shared? (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Which countries are looking at my research?


Pros and Cons about Altmetrics


  • Fast
  • Allow assessment directly at the article level (rather than the journal)
  • Accommodate other products: posters, datasets, blog posts, etc.
  • Measure "hidden impact" (impact without citations)
  • Provide evidence of impact for CVs, tenure packages, & grant applications
  • Provide context and meaning for download counts
  • Provide evidence of public impact and engagement for funders & other stakeholders
  • Complementary to traditional citation-based metrics


  • Impact can be exaggerated through data manipulation ("gaming")
  • Can be difficult to interpret
  • Rely on 3rd-party data sources
  • Metrics can only be accurate if name and object information is accurate


Alternative Metrics Tools

In Discover and EBSCO-hosted databases, TRU Library system is configured to provide alternative metrics. Look for the PlumX Metrics button to find out information about the article.

PlumX Metrics Button                                           Hovering over PlumX button to see available metrics