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Researcher impact

There are a variety of ways to measure your impact, including scholarly citation-focused measures as well other measures of impact:

Before you start, identify why you are measuring your impact as this will help you determine if there is any specific types of data required or excluded. Make sure you understand the publishing and impact norms within your discipline so you can interpret your impact data and tell the impact story of your research in context.

USQ Library provides support for researchers on their research impact. For more information about these services, contact your librarian.


Citation–based impact measures are most useful to those researchers in the ‘pure’ sciences, or in fields with a relatively high overall citation rate.

Citation counts

Citation counts can be gathered for:
  • an individual article (how often it was cited);
  • an author (total citations, or average citation count per article);
  • a journal (average citation count for the articles in the journal).

The three main tools to generate a citation count include:

You can create a profile with each of these tools to save you time when locating your citation counts.


The h-index is the single most highly regarded measure of an author’s impact. It is a measure of both the importance and quantity of an individual’s research performance.

The h-index measures the number of papers with a high citation count that a researcher has published. The larger the number of highly cited papers, the higher the h-index, regardless of where the work was published.

“A researcher has index h if h of his/her Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np-h) papers have no more than h citations each.”

For example, to have an h-index of 10, you must have at least 10 publications with at least 10 citations each.

Your h-index can be calculated by a Google Scholar profile which lists your publications, an ORCID ID, or via Scopus or Web of Science. See <Researcher profiles> for more information.

Issues to be aware of

In general, values can only be compared within a single discipline. Different citation patterns across disciplines make comparisons difficult. For example, an average medical researcher will generally have much larger h-index values than a world-class mathematician.

Even within a discipline, comparing h-index values is only useful if all information has been found using

  • the same database
  • the same method

It is therefore useful to identify your h-index by its source, e.g. a 'Scopus h-index'

The h-index may be less useful in some disciplines, particularly the humanities and social sciences. This is because

  • publishing and citation patterns in these disciplines may mean that there are not enough citations available to generate a useful measure
  • the publications and citations are not indexed in databases

Citation patterns

It is important to remember that citation patterns vary widely between disciplines and across types of publications.

This means that for disciplines where book or conference paper publishing is more common, such as in the humanities and social sciences or engineering and the applied sciences, citation patterns will look very different to a discipline that relies more heavily on journal articles. 

For this reason, it is not possible to compare citation counts across disciplines and care should be taken when making comparisons within disciplines.

There are three main tools to generate graphs of your citation patterns including:

These tools let you create a profile where you can review your citation patterns.

Citer analysis

Citer analysis provides qualitative measures of your research impact by providing information about the citations of your work, including:

  • who is citing your research
  • where they are
  • what institution they're from
  • in which publications they have published
  • in which discipline they have published.

Scopus and Web of Science can provide you with graphs and analytic tools for this type of information as part of their standard features.

Finding out who is citing you and where they come from can help you show:

  • significance of impact
  • trends in publishing in your field
  • evidence that your work is influential across multiple disciplines

The information you choose to use will depend on the story you are trying to tell about your research impact.

If your work is not widely indexed or cited in Scopus or Web of Science, you can get much of this information from Google Scholar and disciplinary specific databases.

USQ Library provides support for researchers on their research impact. For more information about these services, contact your Librarian.

Other impact measures

Those researchers in the social sciences and humanities, who have more ‘social’ impact than citation impact, may find the following impact measures useful.


Altmetrics measures can be based on different types of research ‘products’, not just citations of publications, including:

  • re-use of datasets
  • views of presentation slides
  • interactions with publications

Altmetrics sources can be loosely categorised into any of the different ways that your work may be interacted with online:

  • usage
  • captures
  • mentions
  • social media
  • citations

Altmetrics can

  • enable you to see patterns that may not be obvious from citations alone
  • give context to your research impact rather than trying to boil it down to individual numbers

Showing that your work is being discussed, shared and disseminated across a wide range of platforms could be just as useful as citations when you are exploring whether your work is reaching your audience.

Even though Altmetrics are not the traditional record of scholarly impact and may not be acceptable for some impact measurement purposes they are worth investigating and can be useful.

Many Altmetrics are closely tied to Open Access as they rely on freely available information from the web, so if your research is available through open access journals or via USQ ePrints it is more likely to be discovered by these different products.

There is a huge array of Altmetrics tools emerging into the market at the moment. This is a list to measure Altmetrics tools.

Media coverage

Media coverage in all disciplines can be picked up in a number of databases:

Other Impact Measures

We recommend that researchers in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences keep an Impact Journal to keep a record of any mentions of your work in media, or to make a note of when you are asked to speak at events or in the media.

Factors to consider when deciding how to measure your impact:

  • How do you promote your research?
  • Who is your audience
  • How do you connect with them?

Asking yourself these questions can help you to focus on the different types of impact that you may be having.

For example:

For those researchers in the applied sciences, or Humanities, you may need to demonstrate other kinds of impact outside of the traditional scholarly world.

If you are a researcher in the Engineering disciplines, mentions of your research in industry reports may demonstrate you are changing practice.

For those of you who research in the Creative arts, positive reviews of your exhibitions or performances may be important evidence of impact.

In social policy fields, mentions of your work in governmental or NGO reports or parliamentary papers might demonstrate you are influencing policy.

Tracking additional forms of impact should be tailored to your research approaches and may require a combination of web-based tools and disciplinary specific resources. Please contact your Librarian for assistance.