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Researcher Identity & Impact

This guide is designed to assist you with expanding the impact of your research by developing your researcher profile and explaining how metrics work.

Research Impact

The aim of every piece of research is to have and theoretical and practical impact and to contribute something to the scientific community and the society. Research impact can have many definitions. According to the Research Impact Academy it unifies “all the diverse ways that research benefits individuals, organisations and nations through increasing effectiveness of public services and policy, improving quality of life and health, or economic benefits”. The European Commission defines it as, “A change or a benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life”. The central idea behind the research impact is benefit/effect. This effect however, varies across different disciplines and that makes it extremely complicated for measuring.

Types of impact:

  • Academic: introducing new theories, methods and data within a specific field.
  • Cultural and Social: contributes to peoples’ understanding of ideas and the environment they live.
  • Economic: influence on business and economic growth.
  • Education: creates new possibilities for learning and training.
  • Political: influence on policy making.
  • Health and Wellbeing: new developments in medicine and treatment.
  • Environmental: contributes to environment protection.
  • Technological: creates new technological advancements.

Why do you need to consider the impact of your research:

  • Contribution to academia and society;
  • Professional development and career advancement;
  • Funding;
  • Meet national/institutional requirements;


“Like nuclear energy, the impact factor is a mixed blessing. I expected it to be used constructively while recognizing that in the wrong hands it might be abused.” - Eugene Garfield, “Journal Impact Factor: A Brief Review”

The term “metrics” or “bibliometrics” originated in the era of print media and was initially used mainly by librarians. Nowadays, we can define metrics as a set of quantitative methods used to measure, track, and analyze print-based scholarly literature. - ALA

Why we use metrics?

  • Measure research quality;
  • Career advancement;
  • Decide where to publish;
  • Select journals to subscribe for;
  • Measure institution performance;
  • Find quality information;

Metrics Limitations

“Journal performance is a complex, multidimensional concept that cannot be fully captured inone single metric.” - Henk F. Moed et al.

Metrics have their strengths and weaknesses and you as a researcher should be aware of them. The level of importance which is being assigned to metrics raises concerns about being unfair. Metrics should support the human judgement, not replace it. Here are some of the limitations of using metrics:

  • Scope of the sources: popular databases for researchers such as Scopus and Web of Science use fixed number of  sources to create their metrics;
  • Bias: the publishing practices in some disciplines can create an unfair bias when calculating the metrics.
  • High metrics doesn’t correspond to high quality: some articles might be retracted due to inconsistencies after publishing.
  • Malicious practices and manipulations of results: such as arranged citations; explicit self-citation; “gift-authorship” (credit someone who hasn’t worked on the publication); hyper-authoring (hundreds of authors for a single publication);

How to avoid the limitations?

  • Always use both qualitative and quantitative input in your decisions.
  • Always use more than one metric as a quantitative input.
  • The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA): supporting the adoption of 18 practices for responsible use of metrics in research assesment.
  • The Leiden manifesto: proposed 10 principles for measurement of research performance.
  • The Metric Tide (Wilsdon Review, 2015): uses and limitations of research metrics and indicators.
  • Responsible Metrics Movement: aims to encourage more balanced and responsible use of metrics. You can check the guidelines for developing Responsible Metrics Statement by the University of Bath.

Metrics Categories

Metrics can be grouped into three different categories determined by the outcome they are intended to measure.

  • Article-level metrics: measure the individual scholarly contribution;
  • Author-level metrics: measure the author’s output over time;
  • Journal-level metrics: measure the venue producing scholarly output;