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Michigan State University

Research Impact Metrics

This guide describes the different ways one can measure research impact and output through metrics that assess authors, journals, articles, and departments.

Introduction to Research Impact Metrics

This guide was created by Michigan State University librarians to help show the breadth of research metrics available and to help MSU users begin to determine which metric they may want to use to show their impact.

The use of research metrics is debated and can lead to pitfalls if not well understood.  When deciding on whether to use a metric, always keep in mind that a holistic and multi-faceted approach to talking about research impact is  the most productive. The full story of a researcher cannot be summed up in a single number.

"The problem is that evaluation is now led by the data rather than by judgment. Metrics have proliferated: usually well intentioned, not always well informed, often ill applied. We risk damaging the system with the very tools designed to improve it, as evaluation is increasingly implemented by organizations without knowledge of, or advice on, good practice and interpretation." 

Hicks, D., Wouters, P., Waltman, L., de Rijcke, S, & Rafols, I. (2015). Bibliometrics: The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics. Nature 520(7548), 429-431. doi:10.1038/520429a