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Web of Science: Using a Citation Database: 4. Metrics and Citation Data


Bibliometrics is the statistical analysis of scholarly output (books, articles or other print or online publications). Patterns in citation data can reveal communication networks, trends in scientific understanding, and seminal publications.

Bibliometric methods are also used to evaluate the scholarly output of authors, institutions, nations, etc.  The use of bibliometrics to gauge scholarly impact is common but controversial: it reduces the complexities of research, publication, and the evolution of ideas to numbers. It is essential to understand how the publication metrics commonly used in promotion and tenure decision are derived so that you can evaluate their usefulness—and report them to employers, funding bodies and other groups seeking to evaluate your work.

Commonly reported metrics are intended to reflect: 

  • Article Impact: The number of times an article has been cited is often used to measure that article's impact. You have already seen how citation databases such as Web of Science can provide this data.

  • Journal Impact: Although controversial, the Journal Impact Factor, derived from Web of Science citation data, remains a standard measure of a journal's influence.

  • Author Impact: Total number of publications authored, total citations to an author's body of work and metrics such as the h-index can be obtained from Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. The results you get from each database will vary because the publications each database covers varies.

This module introduces citation analysis tools in Web of Science.

  • Note in particular the use Web of Science to obtain the Journal Impact Factor and an author's h-index.

  • We also offer links to a few selected articles and resources reporting and/or promoting the use of alternative scientific productivity metrics, or "altmetrics".