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Bibliometrics: Impact: Beyond Bibliometrics

Learn how to track citations to your research and the limitations of using bibliometric indicators

Looking Beyond Bibliometrics...

This guide is primarily about bibliometrics and how to track citations and other quantitative metrics relating to your research. Whilst such metrics can be a useful guide or indicator to help you showcase your work, they provide an extremely limited picture of the impact of your research, and really only represent academic impact in a very limited way.

It is important to think about the impact of your research beyond bibliometrics and other quantitative measures, and how you can tell your impact story in a fuller and more representative way.

What is Impact?

Impact is the change or effect that your research has on the world, or "the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy” (UK R&I). It can be useful to think about the process as an impact journey involving inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts, and to consider who will benefit from your research and how they will benefit.

Pathways to impact (activities or initiatives you can undertake to help guide your research towards impact), like engagement with stakeholders, communicating your research at conferences, media appearances and using social media, are often confused with actual impact itself.

Impact can be:

  • Cultural e.g. changing attitudes or opinions
  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health & wellbeing-related
  • Policy-related
  • Scientific or academic 
  • Societal e.g. increasing awareness or understanding
  • Technological
  • Training and capacity building

Collecting evidence of your activities, outcomes and impacts is important in helping you to communicate a comprehensive picture of your research impact. This may include bibliometrics and other quantitative indicators, as well as qualitative information and evidence. 

Useful Resources