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Academic Publishing 101

This guide will guide you through the process of publishing an article in an academic journal.

What are Publication Metrics?

Bibliometrics or publication metrics are measures that analyze the impact of research output based on publication data such as number of publications, number of citations, journal impact factor score, h-index, and any number of developing measures based on document-level and social media impact metrics.

They are commonly used for purposes of tenure and promotion review, grant applications and renewal reports, benchmarking, and for other administrative purposes such as departmental, university or institutional performance reviews.

A word of caution: bibliometrics can only assess how many citations an article receives, and sometimes weights those by the relative "prestige" of the journals citing the article. Bibliometrics do not assess the context of why an article is being cited - just because an article or journal receives a lot of citations, that does not necessarily mean that it is high quality. Always evaluate articles and journals for yourself, and make your best judgment as a scholar.

Traditional Metrics & Altmetrics

Traditional bibliometrics of journal and researcher impact are based upon numbers of citations received per paper published in a journal over a period. They may be weighted by other factors, or may not, depending on the specific measure. They focus on counting citations of individual journals or articles in comparison to peer journals or researchers.

Altmetrics or Alternative Metrics are a new and evolving type of bibliometric measure based on using impact on the Social Web for analyzing and informing scholarship. Altmetric measures can include one or many of the following :

  • Saves or Shares on Social Citation Managers
    • Mendeley
    • Zotero
    • etc.
  • Article download or view statistics
  • Blog mentions or pings
  • Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest likes, etc.
  • Wikipedia citations
  • Tweets
  • Etc.

Altmetrics can show aspects of the impact of research and scholarship beyond what traditional bibliometric citation measures analyze. They can show interest and sharing of research much earlier than possible with citations and are increasingly being used in tenure review, research grant seeking, and research promotion. They are typically used in conjunction with traditional metrics rather than in place of them.

Altmetric Measures Traditional Bibliometric Measures

Algorithms based upon different measures of social media impact, article usage, citation, etc.

Journal impact calculations and measures

SCImago Journal Rank : Journal Impact

SCImago Journal Rank is a measure of a journal's impact factor that is openly available to all to use. It uses data from Elsevier's Scopus database to determine its rankings. SJR measures are available to ATSU users via either:

You can use this rank to evaluate whether a journal's standing in comparison to its peers fits your needs.

Note that the SJR ranks journals by "prestige" as determined largely by how many articles cite articles from that journal. This can create something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as journals are determined to be important due to their high number of citations, which motivates people to use that journal more, which affirms its prestige.

In short, do not assume a low SJR means a journal is low-quality, as it is more likely to simply be smaller and less well-established than other journals, but still subject to the same rigor of peer-review and evaluation. Conversely, do not assume that all articles in a journal are high quality, simply because that journal has a high SJR or good reputation.

h Index : Author Impact

The h index, proposed by J.E. Hirsch in 2005, is a very widely used metric for scholarly impact based on analysis of publication data using publications and citations to provide “an estimate of the importance, significance, and broad impact of a scientist’s cumulative research contributions.”

It intends to reflect both quantity and quality of a researcher's entire research output using a single number based upon how widely and how many papers have been cited.

h Index: Number of papers (h) that have received at least h citations.


Some Caveats :

  • A single number can never give more than a rough approximation
  • Other factors should be considered when evaluating a researcher
  • Different fields have different typical h values because :
    • Different average numbers of references in a paper in the field
    • Different average number of papers produced by a field's researchers
    • Different numbers of researchers in each field
  • Authors may have relatively low h values if they have fewer papers even with extraordinarily high citation counts

A number of other similar metrics are available to attempt to calculate more useful values, but the h Index is currently the most common.

Some scholarly databases provide h index values for authors, including Google Scholar, or you can calculate it yourself.

The Altmetric Bookmarklet : Find Social Media Impact

Altmetric offers metrics for social media shares and mentions of your research. Use it to track online interest in your research before citation data becomes available.  

altmetric icon

The free Altmetric it! bookmarklet for Chrome, Firefox or Safari can show article metrics for any article with a DOI with a single click. The bookmarklet allows for viewing of the Altmetric Score of works on ORCID record pages. 

How to get Started:

  1. Add the bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar
  2. Visit any article with a DOI
  3. Get social media sharing metrics by clicking Altmetric It! in your bookmarks toolbar
  4. For statistics on Mendeley, etc by clicking Click for More Details in the box 

Altmetric also offers free access to its API for researchers interested in working with its large stock of data about social media attention to research.

ImpactStory : Show Social Media Impact

An Impactstory Profile is an open source site that helps researchers explore and share the online impact of their research. It builds on your ORCID iD to pull together your work with your twitter and other social media to link its impact into a simple, findable profile that highlights your work and impact.

Telling Impact Stories: Video from Cushing/Hay Medical Library at Yale University.

Library Support

If you would like assistance understanding how publication metrics work, or help assessing the impact of a journal, article, or researcher, reach out to your liaison librarian for help.