Scientific publications are interconnected through references (=literature used for the publication and mentioned in the reference list) and citations (=publications that include this publication in their reference list).
By tracing these interconnections, the relative importance or the relative impact of an author or a publication may be monitored.
The general assumption is that an article of higher importance is cited more often.
In various scientific disciplines differences may occur in
-The number of articles that is published annually.
-The number of co-authors.
-The number of references added to each publication.
-Types of publications (either just journal articles, or journal articles as well as conference papers or (contributions to) textbooks).
Besides, how often a recently published article is cited may become clear only after a period of time.
Recent developments like Altmetrics aim to address this problem and monitor impact through “direct use” within social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
* Altmetrics stands for alternative methods to gain indications of the "impact" or influence of a publication. These methods include monitoring "use" (i.e. citation) of a publication in blogs and tweets, and how often a publication is downloaded.
Some researchers’ questions which may be answered via Impact analysis:
1. Which are the foremost journals in my field of research?
2. How do I tell who cites my articles?
3. How often was I cited?
4. How do I tell if this is an important article?
5. How do I tell the difference between the impact of articles published in one journal or another, and in which journal may I expect an article to have the largest impact?
“Research impact” measurement may concern quality and/or quantity:
Indicators for the quality of publications by a researcher may be:
-peer review of his/her publications
Indicators for the quantity may be:
-number of publications by the researcher
-how often these publications are cited
-the researcher’s H-index
-the Impact Factor of journals in which he/she publishes
Databases in which answers to questions like these may be found
- For question 1 concerning top-level journals, the subject category with which a research project deals may be determined, and which journals in which fellow researchers publish have the highest Impact Factors.
- For question 2 a solution may be to create a citation alert in databases like Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar.
- To answer question 3 one solution may be to compile a citation report within Web of Science. Note: for social fields there are other options like Publish or Perish software.
- To find an answer to question 4, one could monitor by whom an article is cited, and how often.
- The answer to question 5 is comparable to that to question
Important databases for citation analysis:
The ISI Citation Indexes from Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar.
In these databases, the number of times an article is cited is quoted as “cited by” and the “number of citations” is indicated as well.
The databases differ both in the number and types of publications they cover. Also, there are differences in what is considered to be a “citation”.
For example, in Google Scholar a citation in a Power Point presentation is counted too. To determine as thoroughly as possible how often publications have been cited, using all three databases is recommended.
For further information see web modules Information Skills (intranet page IEC)