Bibliometrics is the statistical analysis of scientific publications – focusing on authors, sources, and citations.
Traditionally, bibliometric analysis has focused on the amount of publications and the number of citations they have received, as evidence of their academic value. The transition to e-publishing and a wider definition of research outputs have facilitated other forms of data collection, for example, downloads, social media mentions, policy documents and more, and thus the use of altmetrics (or alternative metrics) to provide article-level evidence of the societal impact of research.
The statistical analysis results in different indicators about research quantity and quality, including article-level indicators, journal-level indicators, author-level indicators, and institution-level indicators.
Together with qualitative, expert assessment, bibliometric data can be used to provide evidence of academic impact, for example, in the following aspects:
- Publication impact: The academic impact of scientific works, such as journal articles, conference proceedings, and books, can be measured by the number of times they are cited by other works.
- Researcher/author impact: The number of works a researcher has published and the number of references to these works can be an indicator of the academic impact of an individual researcher.
- Publication channel impact: The impact of a particular publication channel, such as a scientific journal and a publisher, can be measured by the number of times their articles are cited and where they are cited.
Evaluation based on scientific publications can focus on an individual researcher, a research group/institution, or the research activity of a whole country. Bibliometric indicators have been used to measure academic impact of an individual researcher, to identify the most highly-cited journals in a field, or to compare research activities of a unit within a certain research area. Institutions and international rankings are also based on citation analysis. See What are bibliometrics used for?
On the national level, the volume and quality of research is a basis for allocating funding for the universities in Finland.
At Hanken, a combination of different metrics are used in Publication Awards by the Hanken Foundation, in the Evaluation of research (EoR) and internal allocation of resources, and in the international accreditations and ranking evaluations.
Individual researchers can use bibliometric indicators to select their readings in literature review and to choose the target journal to publish their research results. Analysis based on citations and publication amounts are potential tools in recruitment, career assessments, looking for research partners, and funding applications.
Bibliometric indicators, however, should never be used in isolation. Choose your indicators with care and do not rely solely on one or two indicators. Do not make inappropriate comparisons. See Responsible metrics.
The Metrics Toolkit (2018) has been developed by an international consortium of librarians and academics to guide researchers and administrators to demonstrate and evaluate claims of research impact, by explaining "what a metric means, how it's calculated, and if it's a good match for your impact question." It helps scholars and evaluators understand and use citations and altmetrics responsibly in the evaluation of research.
Bibliometrics in under 2 minutes. A short video explaining the basics of bibliometrics. Leeds University Library.
Introduction to bibliometrics, UTS Library, Sydney.