Researcher metrics & impact

Learning outcomes

Research metrics can be used to...

  • Assess research outputs and performance of researchers
  • Evaluate the quality of research outputs
  • Identify people to collaborate with for future projects

Quantitative metrics

Indicators that can be counted and ranked

e.g. number of publications, number of citations.

Qualitative metrics

Indicators that cannot be counted

e.g. how your research is being used or valued by others

The Metrics Toolkit is useful for helping you learn which metrics will be useful for you, as well as appropriate use and the limitations of each metric.

Metrics Toolkit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Consider the context

  • When using quantitative metrics, identify the number of publications to give context for other metrics e.g. citation counts.
  • Lots of citations (or other mentions e.g. Tweets) are not necessarily positive – they could indicate a highly controversial publication.
  • The metrics you use must be considered in context to ensure meaningful comparison e.g. comparing researchers at different career stages would not be appropriate.
  • Relevant metrics vary with discipline e.g. citation analysis can be useful in STEM but not HASS disciplines.
  • Journal ranking metrics are calculations of averages e.g. acceptance rates or citations in a journal and so should not be used as a measure of the quality of individual articles.
  • Altmetrics tracks your research from alternative sources including: media, blogs, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and more. Read about the Altmetric Attention Score in the Metrics Toolkit.

Use quantitative metrics to support but not replace qualitative assessment

  • To use metrics responsibly, combine quantitative and qualitative measures to determine the quality of a research output. For example, the number of citations, tweets, or book reviews that a research output receives can support and back up what is said in these mentions e.g. how the research output is valued and which aspects of the work are being used.
  • Read more about the responsible use of metrics in Bibliometrics: The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics

Research in Australia

The Australian Government assesses and evaluates research performance and activities in Australia through:

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA):

  • ERA is the national research evaluation framework which identifies and promotes excellence in research across Australia. Citations and qualitative peer review of research outputs are one of the assessment criteria.

Engagement and Impact Assessment, defining:

  • Research engagement: the interaction between researchers and research end-users outside of academia, for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods or resources. A research end-user is an individual, community or organisation external to academia that will directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome or result of the research.
  • Research impact: the contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research.

Research performance and activities at Southern Cross University


Getting published