A guide to research metrics

What are research metrics? What is an impact factor for a journal? What metrics should you think about when looking to publish your research in a journal, or when making recommendations to colleagues on which journal to submit work to?

Research metrics are quantitative measures that can help you in assessing research outputs, at both article level and at journal level. Use the resources on this page to help you understand what they are and how to use them, whether you’re looking to publish your research, editing a journal or guiding colleagues in your role as a librarian.

3 top tips

  1. What’s your question? What aspect of research performance do you want to evaluate, and what’s your reason for needing to understand it? Can this be measured, and if so how? Be clear on this and then match your research metric to the question you’re trying to answer.
  2. Use quantitative (research metrics) with qualitative (opinions). Research metrics are a useful tool but enhance them by gathering expert opinions: ask colleagues and peers for their thoughts too.
  3. See a more rounded picture. Each metric gets its data from different sources and uses a different calculation (see our guide for more on this). Use at least a couple of metrics to reduce bias and give you a more rounded view – so look at a journal’s Impact Factor but also at the Altmetric details for its most read articles for instance.

N.B. You can check the Impact Factor for Taylor & Francis or Routledge journals on Taylor & Francis Online by going to a journal’s home page, and then check that journal’s most read articles from the ‘Explore’ tabs towards the bottom of the page. Simply click into any of these articles and go to the metrics tab to view that article’s Altmetric data.

Guidance & support

Get an overview of the most common research metrics, what they are, and how they’re calculated in this downloadable guide.

Researchers: metrics can help you select which journal to publish in, and assess the ongoing impact of an individual piece of research (including your own).

Journal editors: Research metrics can help you assess your journal’s standing in the community, raise your journal’s profile, and support you in attracting high-quality submissions.

For librarians: Research metrics can help you to select journals for your institution, and analyze their reach and impact. They can also help you assess the impact of research published by those in your institution.

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'Research Metrics and Recognition' panel discussion

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