Optimising your research impact

Learn how to optimise your research impact using traditional and emerging metrics..

What is citation analysis?

Citation metrics are based on the number of times a work is cited as an indicator of the quality of the work: the more citations, the greater the impact.

Citation data is available from the following citation databases.

Database Content and Coverage Help 
Web of Science

Coverage:  Includes Science Citation Index (1900-present),  Social Sciences Citation Index (1900-present), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (1975-present), Emerging Sources Citation Index (2015-present), among a few others.

Known as a more science focused citation database, content and journals are selected for inclusion.




Coverage: 1970-present, multidisciplinary.

Limited to content and journals selected their Content Selection and Advisory Board.

SciVal SciVal is a subscription based research performance assessment tool which uses data from Scopus. It provides more advanced metrics than those available in Scopus only and also allows you to benchmark individual researchers, groups of researchers and institutions based on a variety of different metrics.




A citation database, a research analytics suite, and streamlined article discovery and access. Dimensions incudes publications, funding, patents, clinical trials, and policy documents linked through billions of  connections and contextualised with metrics and Altmetrics.

It does not use a curated index as seen with Scopus and WoS, instead it updates content continuously, but there is no listing of included or excluded content coverage.

Google Scholar

Provides information about who is citing your publications and graphs of citations to your work over time.

It does not use a curated index as seen with Scopus and WoS, instead it updates content continuously, but there is no listing of included or excluded content coverage.



Further discussion of citation analysis tools:

Harzing, A.-W., & Alakangas, S. (2016). Google Scholar, Scopus and the Web of Science: a longitudinal and cross-disciplinary comparison. Scientometrics, 106(2), 787-804. doi:10.1007/s11192-015-1798-9

Mongeon, P., & Paul-Hus, A. (2016). The journal coverage of Web of Science and Scopus: a comparative analysis. Scientometrics, 106(1), 213-228. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11192-015-1765-5

Waltman, L. (2016). A review of the literature on citation impact indicators. Journal of Informetrics, 10(2), 365-391. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2016.02.007

Konkiel, S. (2014). 4 reasons why Google Scholar isn’t as great as you think it is: http://blog.impactstory.org/googe-scholar-profiles-fail/

Davis, P. M. (2012). Gaming Google Scholar citations, made simple and easy: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/12/12/gaming-google-scholar-citations-made-simple-and-easy/


Note that citation metrics are only as good as the citation data indexed in each resource. No citation database indexes all published works, and no citation database covers all subject areas equally. Please contact your Subject Librarian for advice about where to start, or using any of these tools.


The h-index

A popular form of citation analysis is the h-index. The h-index looks at the total number of papers you have published, and the number of citations these papers have received.

The formula states: "A scientist has index h if h of his or her Np papers have at least h citations each and the other (Np-h) papers have ≥h citations each" (Hirsch, 2005).

For example, if you've published 2 papers, and each paper has been cited 2 times, you will have a h-index of 2.

What if it's a little more complicated, where your published papers have range of both high and low citations. Let's say you've published 5 papers altogether, one cited 5 times, one 4 times, one 3 times, one 2 times, and one just the 1 time. You will have a h-index of 3. That is to say, you cannot claim higher (4 papers cited 4 times each).

Thus the h-index attempts to measure the impact of your output - you need to have published a large number of papers, which were in turn cited a large number of times, to have a high h-index.

This metric can be found using Scopus, Web of Science, or Google Scholar

Keep in mind that this metric is not appropriate for comparing across disciplines and disadvantages early career researchers.

Contact your Subject Librarian if you have any questions about the h-index, or citation metrics in general.

Publish or Perish

The freely available Publish or Perish software is an alternative way to work out individual citation metrics. It allows you to remove incorrectly attributed, non-scholarly, and self-citations from metric calculations. It's main use is with Google Scholar citation data (but you can import Scopus, Web of Science, DImensions, or Microsoft Academic data), and it provides functionality to analyse both author and journal impact.

For a guide on how to use the Publish or Perish software, see this blog post by Patrick Dunleavy.