Impact measurement is becoming more and more prominent in universities: impact indicators, like the journal impact factor and the H-index (for individual researchers), are used as tools in the allocation of research funds, in national research reviews, even in job applications.
It’s important for researchers to know about these indicators: how they are calculated, the contexts in which they can and can’t be used, which ones can be compared and which definitely can’t, how you can influence them yourself. These are the goals of this course: to get to know the indicators used and the possible pitfalls.
The sources covered
In this course we have chosen to cover the three most used data sources for impact measurement:
- Web of Knowledge – with Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports. A database of Thomson Reuters, formerly known as ISI Web of Knowledge.
- Scopus - a database of Elsevier.
- Google Scholar – using Publish or Perish and Google Scholar Citations.
These databases all have their pros and cons: Web of Science and Scopus don’t cover all available journals and literature. Google Scholar covers more, but it’s impossible to know its boundaries (and they can change every day) and Google Scholar doesn’t take into account the source of a citation (a citation in a bachelor thesis available online is counted as high as a citation in a journal article of a leading scholar in the field).
These sources are the ones most commonly used. Alternative methods of impact measurement are being developed, making use of the possibilities the internet has to offer, like taking into account the number of downloads of articles. You can read more about these methods in the report 'Users, narcissism and control – tracking the impact of scholarly publications in the 21st century'. One of the main conclusions of this report is that these alternatives can't legitimately be used in research assessments yet, because they don't comply with more strict quality criteria.
Some practical notes about this course
The examples used in this course were collected in april 2012. The number of search results, cited references and the H-index can change in the meantime.
Most pictures in the course can be enlarged by clicking them. Then they appear in a new screen.
When we refer to articles, you find a link to a RefShare database with additional information about the articles. In this database you can find more literature about research impacts and impact metrics.