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Measuring Research Impact

Provides the common tools and methods to evaluate the impact of research

Citation counts of articles

A way to identify the impact of an article is to see how often the article has been cited. In general, the greater the amount of citations that an article attracts, the more significant this article is to the respective discipline.

To find out how often an article has been cited, you can use a database that provides "Time Cited" information which shows the number of times an article has been cited by other articles indexed in the same database. For example:

[from Web of Science]


The following Library-subscribed databases provide citation counts of articles:

You can also sort a result list retrieved from Web of Science & Scopus by "Time cited - highest to lowest" and "Citations" respectively to identify top papers on a topic.

Some search engines also allow you to locate information about the number of cites to articles. Examples are:

Other measures

In addition to citation counts, you can also use other measures to identify the relative importance of an article. These alternative metrics are often referred to as "Article-Level Metrics", or "Altmetrics". For example:

  • Views or downloads - Some sites that count article views/downloads are
  • Twitter links
  • Mentions in blogs or social media platforms
    • PLoS also tracks mentions of articles in social media and blogs
    • Refer to the "Altmetrics" page of this guide for more about alternative metrics

Articles can also be evaluated using qualitative methods. For example:


More tools in WoS to measure citation impact

Cited Reference Search is a tool available via Web of Science to measure and analyze the citation impact of articles. Click here to learn more.