Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Communications at Georgia Southern University

Resources and services to support faculty and graduate students' scholarly work from conception to publication and promotion

Traditional Metrics

Traditional methods for measuring research impact include familiar metrics of bibliographic citations, peer-review and journal impact factors.  Journal impact metrics attempt to quantify the importance of a particular journal in a field by taking into account the number of articles published per year and the number of citations to articles published in a particular journal. These metrics are one factor to consider when deciding on where to publish. Like author impact measurements, journal impact metrics have limitations and no single measure gives a complete assessment. Researchers will have the best sense of the top journals in their field.

  • Bibliographic Citations

Simple indicators of activity and impact for a group or department can be discovered by searching all the individuals in the group and combining their names with the OR search operator. These raw counts will vary depending on what the data source includes.  There are some common tools used to obtain publication and citation data. [Source: ]

[See the Evaluating Journals page in this guide for more information on journal citations and ranking]


  • Journal Impact Factor (​): a measure of the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a particular year or period. The annual JCR impact factor is a ratio between citations and recent citable items published. Thus, the impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years
  • Traditionally, journal impact factors have been utilized to calculate the impact of scholarship. The impact factor came into use during the 1970s through the work of Eugene Garfield. Calculated as the average number of cited articles divided by the number of citable items in a journal in the past two years, the impact factor illuminates which journals are most influential in a scholar’s given field. In other words, it is a measure of how often a journal is cited by other journals in a field. 

    [from the ACRL Scholarly Communications Toolkit]

​See: Eugene Garfield - The History and Meaning of the Journal Impact Factor. Journal of the American Medical Association. v. 295, no. 1 (2006). (For more on the work and scholarship of Eugene Garfield, see the Garfield Papers Collection at the University of Pennsylvania

  • H-Index

The h-index of a publication is the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3. [Source:]

An author’s h-index is the number of papers (h) that have received (h) or more citations. An author with an h-index of 8 has 8 papers cited at least 8 times. [Source:]

​In recent years, particularly with the explosion of the social web, there has been growing dissatisfaction with reliance upon the traditional journal impact factors. As a result different metrics have emerged including author and article level metrics and alternative metrics, which rely upon social media, reference/bibliography creation software and other non-traditional citations. Additionally, tools are available to researchers to create profiles that track their individual impact and correctly and consistently identify what research outputs are the product of their efforts.  [See: Altmetrics]


[See the Evaluating Journals page in this guide for more information on journal citations and ranking]