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 of 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 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.
Bibliometric indicators can be 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. Bibliometric indicators help researchers in selecting their readings in literature review and in choosing the target journal to publish their research results. Analysis based on citations and publication amounts are potential tools in recruitment, career assessments, funding applications and in an organization's internal evaluations. Institutions and international rankings are also based on citation analysis. See What are bibliometrics used for?
In the new financing model for Finnish universities, publications have a bigger impact. The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture considers Publication Forum (Jufo) as the primary tool for evaluating the quality of a publication channel, and the quality of publications affects the ministry funding allocated to the university.
bibliometric indicators, however, should never be used in isolation. Choose your indicators with care and do not rely solely on one or two indictors. 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.