Central to using bibliometrics is understanding the scope (strengths, weaknesses, coverage and parameters) of the database and metrics being used. Importantly:
- not all research outputs are indexed in bibliographic databases so there will always be data gaps in any result.
- no database indexes all published works, and none cover all subject areas equally. Ideally, bibliometrics should be used alongside qualitative analysis and/or altmetrics.
Although bibliometrics provide quantitative data that can be used to evaluate authors and institutions, the limitations of bibliometric analysis mean that
- bibliometrics should never be used as the sole criteria for any evaluative purpose
- bibliometric data should always be used in combination with other forms of evaluation, such as peer review, to make final decisions.