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Scholarly Communication: Traditional Impact Measures & Altmetrics

Metrics in Google Scholar / Google Scholar Citatins

 google scholar

Article metrics

Open Google Scholar and search an article or subject. In the results list, the number of citations the article has received is visible underneath each article ('Cited by'). Click on this number to see a list of all citations.

Tip: When you access Google Scholar from Appalachian State Library Homepage  you will have full-text access to all articles from journals Appalachian State subscribes to. 

  Screenshot showing library catalog search

Author Metrics
 Open Google Scholar and search your name or that of a colleague. If a (public) Google Citations profile exists, it will show up at the top of the results list. Click on the profile to see various metrics like citations, h-index and i10-index (the number of publications with at least 10 citations). 

Cited References in Ebsco Databases

Searching for Cited References in EBSCO Databases

If you are searching a single database that supports “cited reference” searching, a Cited References link will display at the top of the EBSCOhost screen. If you are searching multiple databases, you may be able search for cited references in the individual databases. The database names that support reference searching will appear in the drop-down list.


Some EBSCO databases provide the ability to "browse references." When you run a Basic or Advanced Keyword Search, any Cited References or Times Cited links that are available are presented with your search results. 


Cited References - If you click the Cited References hyperlink on a Result, the Cited References Screen presents a list of records cited in your original article.

The Impact Factor

Definition: The journal impact factor measures the importance of a journal by calculating the times it's articles are cited.

How Impact Factor is Calculated: The calculation is based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles were cited by the number of articles that are citable.

Be Aware

Experts stress that there are limitations in using impact factors to evaluate a scholar's work. There are many reasons cited for not relying on impact factor alone to evaluate the output of a particular individual. Among these are the following:

  • A single factor is not sufficient for evaluating of an author's work.
  • Journal values are meaningless unless compared within the same discipline. Impact factors vary among disciplines.
  • The impact factor was originally devised to show the impact of a specific journal, not a specific scholar. The quality and impact of the author's work may extend beyond the impact of a particular journal.

According to Jim Testa, a researcher for ThomsonReuters Scientific, the most widespread misuse of the Impact Factor is to evaluate the work of an individual author (instead of a journal). "To say that because a researcher is publishing in a certain journal, he or she is more influential or deserves more credit is not necessarily true. There are many other variables to consider." (interview 6/26/2008 in Thomson Reuters blog entry)

Using Journal Citation Reports

Quantitative analysis of journals is a way traditional peer review may be augmented to gain a more complete picture of a scholar's impact in his chosen field. Three measures can be used:

  • number of publications
  • number of times an author's publications have been cited
  • the importance of the journal where the article is published, or the Journal Ranking.

Knowing the impact or importance of the journal can help in decisions about where an author will choose to submit an article. Libraries and librarians also use journal rankings to make decisions about collection development.

iSI web of knowledge



The established source for journal rankings is Journal Citation Reports, a database that can be accessed through Web of Science or Web of Knowledge. Journals may be searched by individual title, by date, or by subject category. In contrast to Eigenfactor, journals may belong to more than one category. 


To use Journal Citation Reports, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Journal Citation Reports. [It can be found in the Library Databases, Alphabetical Listing - J]
  2. Select either the Science or Social Sciences Edition and the Year.
  3. Select an option to search for a specific journal, or to view a group of journals.
  4. To search for a specific journal, you may search by Full or Abbreviated journal title, title word, or ISSN.
  5. Click on the journal title to see Journal Information, Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, Cited Half-Life, Eigenfactor, Cited Journal Graph,etc.

For more information about Journal Citation Reports view the Journal Citation Reports tutorial created by Thomson ISI.

Metrics in Web of Science

Web of Science



Article metrics

Open Web of Science and search an article or a subject using the 'Search' or 'Cited reference search'-options. In the results list, the number of citations the article has received is visible underneath each article ('Times cited'). Click on this number to see a list of citations; on this page, there is also the option to click 'Create citation report' (top right) to see more detailed article metrics. 

Tip: To view a visual representation of backwards and forwards referencing of a given article ('cited in/cited by'), click on the title of the article in the results list and choose 'Citation map' in the 'Cited References' box in the right sidebar.

Author metrics

Open Web of Science and search your name using the 'Author search'-option. Enter your author name, and optionally proceed to select your research domain(s) and organization(s). In the results list, you can opt to view all results, or look at the tab 'Record sets' to distinguish between different authors with the same name and/or multiple entries for your own name (tick the boxes of the appropiate record sets and select 'View records').

You will now see a list with all your publications listed in Web of Science. Click 'Create citation report' (top right) to view author metrics (citations and h-index).

Tip: Web of Science uses ResearcherID to manage author names/citations. If you have a ResearcherID, you can manually add papers authored by you and correct any mistakes.

Institutional metrics

Extensive institutional metrics are available through Thomson Reuters separate product InCites, but some institutional metrics can be derived directly from Web of Science. Search the institution's name in Web of Science 'Basic search' function, choosing 'Organization - enhanced' from the drop-down menu on the right. Alternatively, use the 'Select from index' option underneath the drop-down menu to search for the organization's name as used in Web of Science. 

Searching for the organization results in a list of papers that have the organization listed as affiliation in Web of Science. You can limit the results to e.g. specific years using the options on the left sidebar. Then click 'Create citation report' to see aggregated and detailed article metrics for these papers. 

Tip: The Citation Report feature is not available from a search containing more than 10,000 records. You can limit the number of results by restricting results to specific years of publication or other criteria.


Social Sciences Librarian

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Allan Scherlen
Belk Library, Office no. 224
P.O. Box 32026
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608