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Syracuse University Libraries

Research Metrics

Helping the researcher to navigate metrics

Introduction: Author-Level Metrics

Author-level metrics measure the impact of the scholarly output of a single researcher. Author-level metrics are designed to help researchers assess the cumulative impact of their work, rather than the impact of a single publication. All author-level metrics are derived from article-level metrics: they aggregate or summarize the impact of an author's publications.

*Resources that are controversial. Please refer to the "Controversial Tools" tab.

Frequently-used Metrics

  • h-index: measures the cumulative impact of a researcher's output by looking at the number of citations a work has received

  • i10-index: created by Google Scholar, it measures the number of publications with at least 10 citations

  • g-index: aims to improve on the h-index by giving more weight to highly-cited articles

  • e-index: The aim of the e-index is to differentiate between scientists with similar h-indices but different citation patterns

For more information on these and additional metric options, visit Publish or Perish and Metrics Toolkit.


As a "general rule of thumb:

  • If an academic shows good citation metrics, it is very likely that he or she has made a significant impact on the field.

"However, the reverse is not necessarily true. If an academic shows weak citation metrics, this may be caused by a lack of impact on the field, but also by one or more of the following:

  • Working in a small or newly developing field (therefore generating fewer citations in total)
  • Publishing in a language other than English (LOTE - effectively also restricting the citation field);
  • Publishing mainly (in) books."

Source: Anne-Wil Harzing, Publish or Perish


Note on Citation Analysis

Citation analysis is a quantifiable measure of academic output. Users need to be aware of the limitations and incongruities of citation metrics. Library subscription databases and Google Scholar do not correct errors in citing papers. This means that one paper may be cited many different ways and appear as separate entries in these tools. Also, author and institutional naming inconsistencies complicate these analyses. Comparisons between these tools should be avoided. The databases use different sources to generate data and some are more comprehensive than others. 

Web of Science

The Author Citation Report in Web of Science will generate an h-index, total number of publications, sum of times cited, and citing articles in both a text and graphical format. The report also includes a breakdown of each publication, cites per year, and average citations of that publication per year. Caveat: this data is extracted from Web of Science publications, so it is recommended to also use one of the other author-level metrics tools for a more comprehensive view of an author's work.

Searching an Author in Web of Science:

  • start with the "Author Search," adding name and initial(s) as indicated, then add "Research Domain" (if relevant) and select the organization
  • at the results page, click on "Create Citation Report"
  • the report can be exported by saving to an Excel or text file

Adapted with permission from the University of Oklahoma Research Impact Metrics research guide.

Google Scholar

Your Google Scholar profile will include a list of the articles you have entered, with "cited by" links for each of them. Google Scholar will display a graph of your citation activity and calculate your total number of citations, h-index, and i10-index. The profile also includes a "recent" version of those three metrics, based on activity in the last five years.

Creating Your Profile in Google Scholar:

  • click "My Profile" at the top and either login to your Google account (or create a new one)

  • you will be prompted to enter some brief biographical information

  • add your articles and decide how to handle updates

Note that your profile is private by default. You can opt to make it public on your profile page.

Setup FAQ


Mendeley is a reference manager and academic social network. Creating a profile allows researchers to interact with colleagues and track some metrics on the use of their work. Please note that although Mendeley was purchased by Elsevier in 2013, it uses Scopus to generate its metrics and include non-Elsevier materials.

Creating Your Mendeley Profile:

  • click "Create a free account" and enter some basic information
  • after your profile is created, you can add your research interests, biography, and publications
  • you can view your publication count, citations, views, and readers by clicking "Stats" in the top navigation bar


Use Publons (available within Web of Science) to track your publications, citation metrics, peer reviews, and journal editing work in a single profile. Your publications will be imported from Web of Science, ORCID, or your citation manager (e.g. EndNote or Mendeley), along with citation metrics from the Web of Science Core Collection. Download a record summarizing your scholarly impact as an author, editor and peer reviewer.


Creating Your Publons Profile:

  • register with your email address, ORCID, Google account, LinkedIn, or WeChat

Controversial Tools

Controversial Tools: and ResearchGate and ResearchGate both seem attractive to scholars, but they also have their share of disadvantages and downsides. We think it is especially important to place these two sites into context and preface them with important considerations.

Consideration #1: You Are Not the Customer

Similar to many other academic social networks, you are not the customer when you interact with these companies, even though you may feel like one. Instead, you are the product that these services seek to monetize and/or “offer up” to advertisers. We do not fault businesses for making money; that is the imperative for them to exist. But we also see and ResearchGate as an extension of those who monetize what many scholars believe should be freely shared. Importantly, if these companies are bought, sold, or go out of business, what would happen to the content you have placed there? This is one reason why it is advisable to first upload items you want to share – articles, preprints, postprints, conference posters, proceedings, slide decks, lesson plans, etc. – to SURFACE, SU’s institutional repository where you can deposit your work. The items in SURFACE are indexed by Google and Google Scholar, so they are searchable, findable, and downloadable by researchers around the world. SU Libraries maintains the platform, the content, and the links. Most importantly, maintaining and preserving content is one of the core missions of SU Libraries. We are not going out of business, so your content on SURFACE will not go away either.

Consideration #2: You Might Be Breaking the Law

Another consideration with these particular services is the legality of uploading your work to these platforms. Most publishers require authors to sign a publication agreement/copyright transfer prior to a manuscript being published, which outlines what you can/cannot do with your own work in the future. Uploading your work – especially a publisher’s pdf – to a site such as or ResearchGate may be a violation of the terms of the publishing agreement, whereas uploading it to an institutional repository may not be (or can be negotiated not to be). Several years ago, a major academic publisher actively went after, requiring them to take down all of the publisher’s content that had been illegally uploaded, much to the surprise and dismay of the authors. And is not the only target. In 2018, ResearchGate was set to take down nearly 7 million articles or about 40% of their content.

Consideration #3: Understand the Privacy Implications

Finally, some of these sites’ tactics are troubling from the standpoint of privacy and intellectual freedom. Personally and professionally, many find it distressing that a private company, which does not adhere to the same professional ethics as librarians and other scholars do, collects information about who is reading what., in particular, then offers to share that information with you if you subscribe to their “premium service.” And while their analytics dashboard does not reveal readers’ names, it may provide enough information for you to know exactly who read your work. You may decide not to pay for’s premium service, but even so – what you view and download will still be tracked. This may not be troubling to you (the “I’m not doing anything wrong, so I don’t care” argument), but we think it sets a bad precedent. What about tracking researchers who study terrorism? Or whistleblowing? Or even climate change? How might people at these academic social media companies create profiles and make judgments about you based on what you are reading? And what will they do with the information they collect, especially if asked for it by government entities?

Additional Readings and Resources:

Adapted with permission from the University of Oklahoma Research Impact Metrics research guide.

*Controversial Tool (go to the Controversial Tools tab for more information) (like ResearchGate) is designed to be an online research community with a social network component. You can upload papers and follow other scholars. Before uploading any of your papers, please ensure that you have permission from the publisher to do so. This falls under "Green" Open Access for author self-archiving. Remember your audience will likely run into a paywall in accessing this content. Additionally, does not offer traditional metrics but does show document and page views.  Please note that, although the site has an .edu domain, it is not associated with an educational institution.

Creating Your Profile:

  • sign up using Google, Facebook, or an email address
  • after entering your login information, you will be prompted to designate your status as researcher (faculty, graduate student, post-doc, etc.)
  • you will then be prompted with suggestions of other researchers to follow
  • after your profile has been created, you can add your publications and a biography


*Controversial Tool (go to the Controversial Tools tab for more information)

ResearchGate (Iike is designed to be an online research community and functions as a social network for researchers. Users can share updates about their research and full papers, and they can follow others to receive updates about their works. In addition to reads, citation counts, profile views, and h-index, ResearchGate has its own metric called RG score. As it is created by a propriety algorithm, it is not clear how this number is generated; therefore, it should be used only cautiously.

Creating Your ResearchGate Profile:

  • click "Join for Free" and select "Academic"
  • you can then confirm your authorship
  • when selecting your publications, you will see a check box selected by default that will automatically send your coauthors an invitation to join Research Gate, so be sure to un-check this box if you do not want to send these emails
  • add research interests and skills
  • ResearchGate will then suggest that you follow others from your institution