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Publishing in the Medical Sciences: Bibliometrics & Altmetrics

Welcome to Publishing in Medical Journals: A Place for Identifying the Best Publication for Your Research

Measuring Your Work's Significance

Publishing is an evaluative process in addition to being a method of scholarly communication. For this reason different tools, or "metrics" have been developed to gauge a published work's significance or to rate the success of a particular publication. Recently researcher profiles have also provided metric tools for authors. Traditional metrics are also known as bibliometrics. These employ quantitative analytics to assess the reception and impact of a publication and involve things like citation count, H-Index, or scholarly output numbers. Impact factors or impact ratings can also tell researchers about a particular journal's productivity and exposure. More recently a measurement tool known as Altmetrics has been developed to indicate the number of times an article has been shared or downloaded. In addition to providing a wider picture of a work's current impact, Altmetrics also gives a visual representation of available data and ratings rubrics.

A number of emerging metric tools are currently being used to quantify scholarly impact. The SCImago Journal and Country Rank tool allows users to see the difference in disciplinary and regional publications while Scopus and Web of Science have all developed their own tools to evaluate research. It is important to remember that researchers should not depend on one method or rubric to inform their decision about where to publish or which source to use. A better, more reflective way to gauge the quality of research is to integrate and analyze collective data points.

Using Bibliometrics Effectively

Impact Factor

Within both traditional and current publishing models, a journal's Impact Factor (IF) is an important attribute to determine the relevance of a particular journal and its content. Impact factors measure the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. Databases such as Scopus often have "cited-by" or "highly cited" filters to determine an article's circulating capacity. This article from the Clarivate Analytics parent website contains some good information about the evolution of Impact Factors

Altmetrics Essentials

Altmetrics generally applies to individual articles. It uses both numeric and visual tools to track the use of an article within the world of digitally shared media. Specifically, altmetrics gauges the following:

  • Number of downloads or viewings from a database
  • Number of appearances on blogs or news sites
  • Number of shares on social media
  • Number of times archived on research and citation manager portfolios (Mendeley, RefWorks, Endnote, etc.)

In presenting the information, it uses a doughnut-shaped tool to track and visualize the data.

Researcher Profiles & Recording Your Metrics

For individual scholars, several tools are available to archive and rate researcher impact. In addition to maintaining personal accounts, such tools can help to distinguish an author's works and indicate their impact over time. Some publishers even require researcher profiles as a compliance tool for submission and publication. As with any social media platform, researcher profiles can be good networking tools, encouraging the potential for collaboration by linking up with scholars doing similar research. 

Sites such as ImpactStory provides a comprehensive assessment of a scholar's impact by combining publication metrics with other forms of scholarship such as datasets and software. Others such as ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) allow users their own digital identifier number helping them to maintain and manage their scholarly identity. With ORCID, researchers can link their own profile and publication information and allows for integration of various metrics to determine scholarly contribution. Additionally, Scopus has recently come up with an Author ID portal which allows researchers to document their interaction with the site. Research Gate and Google Scholar also provide similar personalized tools. 

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