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Geology: Research Impact

Research impact information can assist individuals in activities such as quantifying return on research investment, making a case for promotion and tenure, and managing their scholarly reputation. At the institutional level, this data can help with recruitment efforts as well as developing an overall sense of the strengths and expertise within the organization. Key components of research impact:

  • Scholarly impact presents a composite view of all of the elements, both traditional (citations) and non-traditional (social media mentions) that comprise a snapshot of a researcher’s impact within his/her field across time
  • There is no perfect method or tool that captures all of these elements so it is important to consult a wide array of resource
  • Each discipline may view impact differently, and it is important to situate qualitative and quantitative information within this broader context

What about Impact Factor?

Typically, the higher impact factor, the more prestige or influence is associated with a particular journal. The more times an article is cited, it is typically considered more prestigious. Impact factors measure the average number of citations received per article published a particular journal during preceding two years. It has been used to compare the importance of different journals when considering avenues for publication and also to judge the importance of a scholar’s work for tenure or other related processes. We do not contend here to discuss the merits of these activities, merely explain them. There are limitations to impact factors however. The way in which an impact factor is determined is not entirely transparent. Citation quantity does not necessarily point to importance if, for example, an article was cited 100 times but it was deemed to be erroneous or otherwise unusable and it was used as an example of what NOT to do, then certainly quantity of citations in this regard would not be an indicator of quality. In addition, it is not easily reproducible, varies between disciplines and can be manipulated. Finally, while it may provide some information about the journal itself, it is difficult to extrapolate this value down to the article and author levels.

There are some additional metrics which attempt to look at a more individual level:

  • H-Index was developed by J.E. Hirsch and attempts to measure the scientific productivity and  impact of a researcher. It can be found in various resources such as the Scopus database and Google Scholar‚Äč
  • A complete list of metrics can be found on the NCSU Libraries website

Four research impact tools are currently available to OSU faculty. You can find training material for each of these products on the Library website, and liaison librarians are available to provide in-depth instruction by request

  • SciVal by Scopus: A powerful and flexible ready-to-use solution, SciVal enables you to visualize research performance, benchmark relative to peers, develop collaborative partnerships and analyze research trends.
  • Google Scholar Citations: A free service, which is quickly gaining functionality, it tracks academic articles, but it also counts theses, book titles and other documents towards author citation metrics.