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Research Metrics

This guide will help you understand research metrics about authors, articles/books, and journals.

General Information

Impact at the article level is often based on usage metrics. The most common article usage metric is citation counts, or times cited. The following databases provide a citation count for each indexed publication.

The location of the citation count is slightly different for each database. Screenshots are shown below for each database to demonstrate how information is displayed.


Things to note:

These databases derive citation counts from their unique set of curated publications. As a result, citation counts will vary from database to database, even when examining the same article. For example, Google Scholar checks for citations across a wide variety of web sources so their citation counts are often inflated compared to other tools. The most comprehensive view of citation counts can be obtained by gathering citation count information from various tools and then deduplicating.

Citation counts include self-citations (i.e., you citing your previous publications). Some databases, noted below, allow you to remove self-citations.


Dimensions is similar to Google Scholar in that it tracks citations across a more comprehensive content base. Dimensions indexes journals, books, patents, grants, clinical trials, and more, and is meant to encompass the entire research process, not just the final publication. Because of the wide range of work included in the database, the citation count for an article on Dimensions will likely be higher than on a database like Scopus.

After making a search in Dimensions, a rounded citation count number can be seen at the bottom of the search result for each article, as highlighted in yellow below.

Rolling your mouse cursor over this number will bring up a pop up box (highlighted in yellow below) that contains slightly more detailed information about citations that may include number of recent citations, field citation ratio, and relative citation ratio.

To obtain more detailed citation data, click on the “Citations” button. This takes you to a page with three tabs at the top where you can navigate between 3 different sets of data. The “Summary” tab displays the same information as the pop-up from the search page, as shown below.

Dimensions Summary Tab

The “Citations” tab displays a graph of the article citations by year as well as the exact citation number and links to the most recent citations. Detailed numbers for each year can be accessed by placing your cursor on the line of the graph.
Dimensions Citation Tab

Lastly, the “Citing research categories” tab displays a pie chart that gives the number of citations for this article based on the research field of the citing article.

Dimensions Citing Research Tab

Google Scholar

Google Scholar uses web-crawling software to access and search through not only academic databases, but author websites and other places that host pdf or text versions of academic papers. As a result, citation numbers may be inflated because duplicate results and non-journal publications may not be excluded. Google Scholar is an aggregator database, so it does not provide much analytical information beyond the raw number of citations.

After conducting a search in Google Scholar, the number of citations can be found below the article abstract as highlighted below in yellow.  If the citation count is clicked, you will be redirected to a list of all of the citing publications, which you can browse.


Scopus is a database owned by Elsevier. The database "content is carefully curated and ultimately selected by the independent Scopus Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB), an international group of scientists and researchers with journal editor experience, who represent the major scientific disciplines. Year round, the board members are responsible for reviewing all new titles that are suggested to Scopus, in addition to reviewing and ensuring that the quality of existing content is maintained." Citation counts reflect the number of articles found in Scopus that cite the article in question.

After conducting a search in Scopus, a linked citation count can be found under the "Cited by" heading on the right side of the search result page. This is highlighted yellow in the image below.

If you click on the linked citation count, and then click "Analyze search results," you see an array of graphs about the citing documents, as shown in the image below.

Analysis of Citing Documents

Alternatively, back on the search result page, if you click on the article title, and then click on "View all metrics," you will see a display of various metrics including Scopus view counts and PlumX metrics.

More information about Scopus article metrics can be found here.

Web of Science

Web of Science is made up of smaller collections that can be searched independently or collectively, so long as you have subscription access to all of them. Web of Science Core Collection is the most premier collection and is a compilation of the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) databases. When you search in Web of Science, the given citation count reflects data from the selected collection(s). In the screenshots below, "all databases" were selected for the search.  

Similar to Scopus, citation counts on Web of Science can be found on the right hand side of the search results. See the arrow pointing to the citation count highlighted in yellow below.

If you click the linked citations number, and then click the purple "Analyze Results" button, you can explore various details about the citing documents. As shown in the image below, the top half of the page shows selected information in a TreeMap or bar chart. A drop down menu (highlighted with a yellow box below) allows you to choose what information to analyze (e.g., Web of Science Categories, Publication Years, Authors). The bottom half of the page shows the selected information in a table format, and at the end of the table, there is an option to download the data to a text file.

Other detailed information such as citations by database and cited references can be found by clicking the article title from the search results page. You can also create a citation alert which will automatically send you an email every time the article is cited.