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Key takeaways

  • Article-level metrics measure the impact of a single publication; author-level metrics measure the cumulative impact of a researcher's total scholarly output.
  • Use both traditional metrics and altmetrics to holistically evaluate the impact of your research.
  • Traditional metrics such as number of citations are used to gauge your academic impact.
  • Altmetrics (alternative metrics) -- e.g. online downloads, social media mentions, policy citations -- are an indicator of your impact outside of academia.
  • To assess your impact as an author, check key metrics such as your h-index and total citations using Google Scholar and Scopus Preview.
  • To evaluate the impact of a single article, look for its freely available citation count in Google Scholar. Additional article-level metrics may be available via subscription versions of Scopus and Web of Science.
  • Always check more than one source! Metrics differ between databases.

For more information, click through to the other tabs in this box.

Researcher impact reports

Monash Health researchers seeking information on their research impact can request a Researcher Impact Report from the Library. Click the link below to learn more and request a report on your research impact.

Request a Researcher Impact Report

How to measure your research impact as an author

  • Use author-level metrics to gauge your overall research impact, based on a complete picture of your research output.
  • Combine traditional metrics with altmetrics (for individual articles) to get an up-to-date and holistic view of your impact.
  • Don't rely on the metrics from just one database; check multiple sources to gather metrics. Metrics frequently differ between databases or sources, depending on how many of your publications are available in each database. For example, check both Google Scholar and Scopus (see below).
  • Know that good metrics are generally a reliable indication of significant impact; however, weak metrics are not necessarily due to low impact.

Common author-level metrics

The below table provides an overview of several common, freely available author-level metrics, their use and limitations, and where you can find your own.

Metric Meaning and use Be aware that... Where to find yours
Number of articles

Total number of articles ever published by a single author.

Indicator of research productivity.

It is a raw number that doesn't take into account research quality or level of impact.

Your own records

Google Scholar

Your Researcher Profile on the Monash Health Research Repository

Total number of citations
("Times cited")

Total number of times that an author's articles have been cited.

A measure of scholarly influence.

Citation patterns vary across publication types (review articles receive a disproportionate number of citations), journals, and disciplines.

Google Scholar

Scopus Preview (free version of Scopus)

(Hirsch index)

An h-index of 3 means that, out of all papers ever published by an author, 3 of them have been cited at least 3 times. See video below for more information.

A measure of scholarly influence and research productivity.

Alternatives such as the m-quotient and g-index are similar but not commonly used.                     

Not suited to early-career researchers, as an author's h-index generally increases over time as citations accumulate.

Insensitive to highly-cited papers -- better for researchers publishing a greater volume of papers.

Should not be used to compare researchers from different fields.                                                 

Google Scholar

Scopus Preview


Number of publications that have received at least 10 citations.

A measure of scholarly influence and research productivity, based on citations in Google Scholar.

Developed by Google and not available elsewhere.

Does not include citations from outside of Google Scholar.

Google Scholar

Note: Additional author-level metrics are available via subscription databases such as InCites, SciVal, and the paid version of Scopus. Researchers affiliated with a university may have access to these databases. 

Author-level citation metrics are only calculated for researchers who have a Google Scholar Profile. You can choose to keep your Google Scholar Profile private if you wish.

  1. While signed in to your Google Account, click here to create a Google Scholar Profile. If you don't have a Google Account, you will need to create one before setting up your Google Scholar Profile. See this page for more information on Google Scholar Profile setup, adding articles, and update settings.
  2. Your Google Scholar Profile will display citation metrics such as the below, an example taken from Stephen Hawking's profile.


  • After creating your profile, click 'Configure article updates' and opt to review and confirm new articles via email alerts. This will prevent unrelated articles being added to your profile during automatic updates. More information is available here.
  • Citation metrics are automatically updated when a new piece of research in Google Scholar cites one of your articles.
  • Google Scholar also tracks citations from outside of peer-reviewed articles, such as citations in books and online slide sets.

Scopus Preview -- the free version of Scopus -- displays key citations metrics on Author Profiles. On each Author Profile, you can find metrics including the author's h-index, total number of citations, and the number of their publications in Scopus. 

  1. From the homepage, click 'View your author profile' to open the author search page.
  2. Enter your name and any other details, then click 'Search'.
  3. Review the search results and click on the correct Author Name to open the Author Profile.
  4. On the Author Profile page you will see metrics such as those pictured below. Scopus refers to publications as 'documents'. Remember that the documents listed are only those available within Scopus.

Note: If you see more than one Author Name listed for you, it means that you have multiple Author Profiles and you can request to have these profiles merged. From the search results page, tick the checkbox next to each of your names -- this will bring up a 'Request to merge authors' option at the top of the results list.

h-index (2 mins 40 secs)

This video provides an overview of what the h-index is, what it means, and its limitations.

How to measure the impact of your article

  • Use article-level metrics to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of a single publication.
  • Ensure that you check both traditional metrics and altmetrics -- see the next 3 tabs in this box for more on altmetrics.
  • Traditional citation metrics are best suited to traditionally published research outputs such as peer-reviewed journal articles. To measure the impact of other outputs, e.g. a conference presentation, use altmetrics. 

Traditional metrics based on citations

The table below summarises common article-level metrics based on citations. 

Metric What is it? Be aware that... Where to find yours
Number of citations Raw number of times that an article has been cited by other scholarly publications. This number is likely to differ between databases. Databases only count citations by other publications within the same individual database. Google Scholar
Citation benchmarking (percentile)

Indicates how an article is performing compared to other similar articles globally. Similar articles are determined by e.g. publication date, document type, discipline.

E.g. 99th percentile = article is in the top 1%.

A normalised metric which can be used to compare researchers or articles from different fields.

Scopus/SciVal or Web of Science
(subscription versions only)

Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI)

Ratio of the number of citations actually received & the number of citations expected to be received, based on the average for a particular field of research.

A FWCI of 1 means that the publication's impact is equal to that of other similar publications.

A FWCI of <1 means that the publication's impact is less than expected, while >1 indicates it has had a greater impact than expected.

A normalised metric which can be used to compare researchers or articles from different fields.

Recommended if you are publishing in fields which typically generate fewer citations than STEM fields.

(subscription version only)

Note: If you are affiliated with a university, you may have access to the subscription version of Scopus/SciVal and similar tools such as Web of Science.

Google Scholar displays citations for all articles in its database.

Option 1: Search Google Scholar for the article that you are interested in and locate it in the search results. 'Cited by' shows you the number of citations by other articles in Google Scholar. To view a list of the citing articles, click on 'Cited by'. 

Option 2: Create a Google Scholar Profile for yourself. Your profile will list your publications and the number of citations they have received in the 'Cited by' column.

Article metrics: What do they mean and why are they important to researchers? (2 mins 51 secs)

This video -- by academic publisher Taylor & Francis -- explains the importance of article-level metrics.


Altmetrics (alternative metrics) are non-traditional metrics that consider a wide range of activity such as tweets, Facebook posts, article views and downloads, and discussion on scholarly networking sites and repositories. Many publishers, databases, Open Access archives (such as ArXiv), and repositories now contain altmetrics.

Note: Altmetrics are currently only available for individual research outputs (i.e. at the article-level), rather than author-level. 

Why look at altmetrics?

Altmetrics complement traditional metrics (bibliometrics) by:

  • offering insight into how others are engaging with your research outside of academia
  • showing how research findings are influencing real-world policy and practice
  • indicating the degree of public interest in your chosen research topic
  • demonstrating engagement with any type of research outputs, not just journal articles
  • providing real-time information -- in contrast to citations, which accumulate over years

More information: 10 tips for using altmetrics in your CV and grant applications

Click through to the next two tabs to learn how to use PlumX and Altmetric, two common altmetrics tools.

Altmetrics explained in under 2 mins (1 min 24 secs)

This video from Leeds University Library introduces altmetrics, providing examples and noting strengths and limitations.

How to use altmetrics for professional advancement (2 mins 44 secs)

This video covers 3 rules for using altmetrics data. While the case study uses a researcher applying for tenure, the rules are applicable to job and grant applications more generally.

PlumX Metrics

PlumX provides information about how people are interacting with a particular research output online. Research outputs include journal articles, as well as over 60 other outputs such as abstracts, book chapters, and theses.

PlumX divides its chosen metrics into five categories:

Category Examples Meaning
Citations citation indexes, clinical citations, policy citations, patent citations Citations are traditional measures of academic impact. Clinical citations and policy citations are indicators of societal impact.
Usage clicks, downloads, views, library holdings, video plays Shows that people are reading the article or otherwise using the research.
Captures bookmarks, favorites, reference manager saves, readers, watchers Indicates that someone wants to come back to the work. Can be an indicator of future citations.
Mentions blog posts, comments, reviews, Wikipedia links, news articles 'True' engagement with the research and its findings.
Social media shares, likes, comments, tweets "Buzz" or attention. Also an indication of how well the article was promoted.

Adapted from: PlumX Analytics. (n.d.). About PlumX Metrics 

Finding PlumX Metrics for your articles

PlumX Metrics are often embedded in databases and online journal websites.

  1. Find an online copy of your article. Check the journal's website or search the Monash Health Research Repository for a link to your paper.
  2. While viewing your article online, look for the PlumX icon, known as the 'Plum Print' (below).
  3. Click the drop-down arrow next to this icon and select "See details". The details view provides a breakdown of the article's performance according to the five different PlumX Metrics categories.


Click through to the next tab in this box to learn about another common altmetric tool, Altmetric.


Altmetric is a tool produced by a company of the same name. Altmetric tracks social media sites, newspapers, magazines and more. You may have seen the Altmetric 'donut' logo (below) while reading or searching for research papers online.

The donut and Altmetric Attention Score - Altmetric Colours of the Donut : Altmetric

Altmetric Attention Score

At the centre of the 'donut' is a number called the Altmetric Attention Score, indicating how much attention an article has received. It is a weighted score, so that mentions in news media are worth more than tweets and YouTube.

A score of 0 means that Altmetric have not tracked any attention for that particular paper. Any score over 20 typically means that the article is receive above-average attention. Read more here.

How to use Altmetric

Altmetric only works in Chrome, Firefox or Safari. It can be added to the bookmarks toolbar and used to get altmetrics on articles with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) or identifiers in open access databases such as PubMed.

  1. Install the Altmetric Bookmarklet on your browser. Note: Chrome, Firefox, or Safari only. 
  2. Once installed, view your article online and click the 'Altmetric It!' button in your Bookmarks Bar. A small pop-up will appear -- see the example below. 
  3. At the bottom of the pop-up, click 'Click for more details' to view in-depth information including policy document citations and demographics. You can also sign up to receive email alerts when your article receives new mentions. 

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