Intro to citation metrics

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Intro to citation metrics

International peer-reviewed journals publish plethora of papers every year and this volume of research output is certainly going north every year. As the number of studies getting in continues to increase, citations from other researchers positively impact a research study. Hence, it is imperative to have such citations in published work. That is why you have citation metrics.

Citation metrics quantify the quality, significance, and quality of a published work. And citation metrics are built on journal citations and reflect a research paper’s quality instead of author’s or article’s performance. So the quality of a published work is affected by multiple variables; for example, average citation counts for every paper.

These numbers show the readership and popularity in the scientific fraternity for a specific journal. Hence, gauging the number of citations is an important yardstick for publishers, institutions, and academic societies. Let’s talk about the popular numbers that come into play in the publishing industry.

Impact and significance and quality—these are the quantitative criteria for gauging published work in a scientific journal.

Here is a quick look at some of the common metrics in scholarly and scientific publishing.


This is alternative and complementary to the traditional metrics and atypical of journal metrics because they are also applied to other content such as videos, presentations, people, etc. Calculates online references in social media, online news, online reference applications, and so forth.

Five-year impact factor

5-yr IF (impact factor) is the average figure of citations of a review, proceeding, or article within the last five (5) years.

Journals’ impact factor

Journal impact factor (IF) is the average figure of citations of a review, proceeding, or article within the last two (2) years.

SC imago journal factor

This figure is the mean (average) number of citations within a year for papers published in the previous three (3) years. High-impact journals’ citations have a greater impact.

Eigenfactor index

This figure gauges the total weightage or importance of a review, proceeding, or article by considering the influx of citations from top notch journals and discrediting self-citations. It’s a total impact score.

Hirsch metrics

This indicates the quantity of papers (h)  that have been cited h times irrespective of the publishing year. An author-level metric deployed on data sets.

This metric factors in both number of citations from journals as well as the quality of the journal for the paper during a chosen year in the previous 3-year period.


Centre for Science and Technology Studies  (CWTS) Journal Indicators provide stability intervals that show the reliability of the SNIP value of a journal; Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) gauges contextual citation impact by weighting citations on the total number of citations in a discipline. Hence, a single citation is given greater value in disciplines where citations are less common and lesser value in subjects that have many citations.  Unlike the popular journal impact factor, SNIP fills in for variation in citation methods between scientific disciplines by accommodating more accuracy between-field comparisons of citation impact.

Immediacy index

This gauges how quickly an article is cited; mean (average) of the number of times a piece of work is cited within the first (1st) year of publication.

Consider the above metrics as you plan to publish your paper. There are many other journal citation metrics in the industry and we’ll discuss in the next article.

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