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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Impact Indicators & Metrics

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We welcome your questions about impact metrics and/or your suggestions to improve this guide. Please contact us at

This guide has been developed by a team of librarians:

  • Christine Turner, Scholarly Communication Librarian
  • Jennifer Chaput, Data Services Librarian
  • Melanie Radik, Science and Engineering Librarian
  • Rebecca Reznik-Zellen, Head, Science and Engineering Librarian, and
  • Sarah Fitzgerald, Assessment and Planning Librarian

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What it is:

The Hirsch Index, or h-index, is an aggregate measure of an individual researcher's productivity (number of published papers) and impact (number of citations). It is a simple calculation where an individual has an h-index of h if h papers have been cited at least h times.

h-index plot

What it is used for:

The h-index was created as a mechanism for measuring both productivity and impact so that comparisons between researchers could be made. It is often used to identify researchers that are influential within a given field and is invoked by granting agencies, hiring committees, and tenure and promotion review committees.  

The h-index is a simple measure that, if properly contextualized, can be more effective than other single metrics (IE: total publications, total citations, citations per publication) to articulate a researcher's output or to predict future scientific achievement. 

Nota Bene:

Although it is widely recognized and frequently used, there are a few important characteristics of the h-index to note before you proceed. 

  • The h-index is one among many measures that can be used to describe your productivity and impact.
  • The h-index is a cumulative measure, favoring tenured faculty over early career researchers.
  • The h-index should only be used to make comparisons within disciplines or subdisciplines.
  • The h-index includes self-citations and excludes citation context. 
  • The h-index is subject to the biases and inconsistencies of the database used to calculate it. 
  • Always note which source you used to calculate your h-index (IE: Web of Science or Google Scholar).
  • Ambiguities of the h-index have inspired a multitude of variants.

How to find it: 

H-indices are compiled and calculated by indexing and abstracting services. Because they index different content, a researcher's h-index will differ between each of them.    

  • Web of Science (available through the Libraries)
    • Use Author Search to find a researcher by name. Select the person you are looking for and a summary page will include the h-index in the right hand column. Click on "View Full Citation Report" for more details. 
    • Alternately, click on an author name from any document record and be brought to their summary page. 
  • Google Scholar (freely available)
    • To view your own h-index, you first need to set up a Google Scholar Profile. Your Google Scholar Profile page will include all of the documents that Google has indexed under your authorship, and h-index information is listed at the top of the right hand column.  
    • To view someone else's h-index, search their name in Google Scholar. If they have a public profile, you will be able to view their h-index. 
  • Scopus (available through the Libraries) 

    • Use Author Search and click on the author that matches who you are looking for. The author profile will show the h-index at the top of the page below their name and affiliation. You can click on “View h-graph" to see a graph and additional information.  
  • Publish or Perish (free download from
    • Based on Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic data, Publish or Perish is a program that helps you calculate your h-index. 

Note that Web of Science citation coverage is limited to its indexed content. Google Scholar indexes content more broadly than Web of Science, although it also includes unvetted and potentially unscholarly material. Google Scholar has more comprehensive coverage of total citations than either Web of Science or Scopus (an Elsevier product), and significantly better coverage of citations in the humanities and social sciences. Read more in Martin-Martin et. al. (See also their interactive web application.)


i10 Index

What it is: 

The i10-Index is a metric showing the number of papers that have received at least 10 citations. 

What it is used for: 

The i10-index was created by Google Scholar and is employed only on Google Scholar. It is used to provide additional information about a researcher's impact beyond the h-index, which can obscure high-impact papers or highly-productive authors. 

Nota Bene: 

  • Although it is free to access and easily calculated, like any other indicator the i10-index should be contextualized.
  • It should not be used to make comparisons outside of disciplines or career stage. 

How to Find It: 

  • Google Scholar (freely available)
    • To view your own i10-index, you first need to set up a Google Scholar Profile. Your Google Scholar Profile page will include all of the documents that Google has indexed under your authorship, and i10-index information is listed at the top of the right hand column.  
    • To view someone else's i10-index, search their name in Google Scholar. If they have a public profile, you will be able to view their i10-index. 

Author Impact Beamplot

What it is: 

An Author Impact Beamplot from Clarivate (Web of Science) is a graph of articles and their citation impact by an individual researcher through time - with additional linked data.  Citations to each published paper are analyzed, field-normalized by discipline to control for variation in citation rates, and offered as percentile of the field; e.g. 90%+ score means that that paper is among the 10% most cited in that discipline.

This approach allows for greater contextualization for the researcher's history.  A thorough review of publication history using a beamplot can result in less of a penalty for a break in publication. Linked author information offers the ability to take into account international or interdisciplinary collaborations, publication responsibilities of position at the time, home institution reputation, and other factors that result in variation of publication volume.

What it is used for: 

Author Impact Beamplots are created by Clarivate, and available on the Web of Science platform.  They are used to analyze a researcher's publication productivity, impact, and trajectory over time within their field.

Nota Bene: 

  • Does not include publications from the past 2 years.
    • Research suggests a 3 year minimum is necessary for significant citation impact in the sciences; more in the social sciences and humanities.
  • Best for evaluating individuals who have accumulated a significant publication portfolio over a number of years.
    • Best for use in trend analysis.

    • Representation as percentile skews any citation made in 1st 2 years unrealistically high.

  • Data is drawn from Web of Science indexed Article and Review publications, so beamplots for humanities and social science researchers face limitations.

How to Find It: 

  • Web of Science (available through the Libraries)
    • Use the Researchers tab on the Web of Science Search page to locate a researcher's author record.
    • The Author Impact Beamplot Summary is available as the top metric in the right-hand column.  The full beamplot is linked there as well, or available as a tab next to the Publications tab above the listed citations.



What it is: 

"Altmetrics" is a term to describe the various measures of online attention that any scholarly output (paper or book or data) receives. Altmetrics demonstrate scholar impact based on diverse online research output, such as social media, online news media, online reference managers and more.

What it is used for: 

Altmetrics are used as a complement to traditional publication metrics, by providing additional context. They accrue faster than citations and help demonstrate the broader impacts of research.

For example, page views and downloads account for more than 90% of the uses of an article, but these uses are not captured in a formal citation. Blogs and media mentions can demonstrate interest in a research topic outside of academia. 

Nota Bene: 

  • Like all metrics, any altmetric indicators should be presented in context, rather than as a number with intrinsic meaning.
  • The two main providers of altmetric data are Altmetric and Plum Analytics. Their data sources are different so their altmetric scores for a single publication will also differ!

How to Compile Altmetrics for an Author: 

  • Impact Story (freely available)
    • Impact Story is an open-source platform that aggregates data about the online impact of a researcher's work. Impact Story populates an individual researcher's profile using ORCID and Altmetric data. It will highlight the percentage of an author's works that are Open Access and show the variety of almetrics associated with each publication.
  • Dimensions (free application)
    • Dimensions is a linked data dataset produced by Digital Science of over 100 Million publications. It is available freely for personal, no-commercial use. 
    • Search for an author by name. All indexed publications will be listed along with citation and altmetric badges. 
    • Embeddable Dimensions Badges for citation information and Altmetric Badges for Altmetric data are available for each publication record. 
  • Institutional Repositories (openly available)
    • Institutional Repositories provide open access to research products and track the number of page views and downloads for each record in their system. 
    • ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst displays download counts and altmetric data for each record. The Author Dashboard provides more detailed usage information about each paper affiliated with a researcher, including geograhic distribution, downloads and page views, and PlumX altmetric data. 


Additional Tools for Authors

Publons (free accounts available) 

Publons is a platform that builds individual researcher profiles using Web of Science data. It also integrates with ORCID. Publons profiles show most-cited publications and calculates basic publication metrics, including the h-index. Publons is also the only platform that allows authors to include a record of their Peer Reviews.

CRediT (freely accessible)

CRediT is the acronym for the Contributor Roles Taxonomy developed by NISO. It includes the definitions of 14 research roles that are often subsumed under the role of "author". The intent is to give researcher the tools to accurately describe their contributions to research.