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Understanding Scholarly/Academic Research

Learn about research formats & methodology, credibility & relevance, peer-review & scholarly as well as impact metrics when choosing research content

Impact metrics are just that, a measurement of content's impact on a discipline and the broader community. Students may access these metrics through the library databases and freely accessible applications on the open web. All impact metrics have strengths and limitations in both design and output.

Impact metrics can help you develop a perspective on your research output and the research impact of fellow scholars. They can reveal the importance of a body of research and the impact of an individual scholar and highlight a work's positive and negative impressions.

Impact metrics are not an assessment of the quality of a work,  they reflect the impact based on usage of a specific work on a field of study, a topic or a discipline. 

LIMITATIONS of Impact Metrics

Impact metrics are helpful and heavily used but should be viewed critically and applied with caution due to many issues that include:

  • New research, new journals, early career scholars, and non-English content are under-represented by traditional impact metrics., e.g. Citation Tracking and Journal Impact Factor. 
  • Typically focused on quantity (amount of output), not necessarily quality of the work.
  • Publishers (eg. Elsevier-Scopus-Citescore) may rank their journals higher than the competition.
  • Authors can manipulate their metrics through self-citing.
  • No measurement of scholarly, non-academic work Eg. EBP study in a hospital setting.
  • No standardization of metrics within or across academic fields.
  • Publication frequency differs significantly by medium (paper, electronic) and time to publication: newspapers, blogs, journals,  and books.  This may impact similar content being less cited despite the quality of the research.
  • Negative reviews of works cited as poor examples can increase item metrics.

Impact Metrics in the LIBRARY

EBSCOhost: e.g. Academic Search Premier, Business Source Complete and CINAHL provide impact metrics on specific articles or at the author level (Cited References).

To view article metrics through the Cited References limiter

  1. navigate to the Advanced Search page
  2. limit by References Available on the left side of the results page 


ProQuest may provide citation tracking data after searching an author or conducting a keyword search

To look up Cited References:

  1. Navigate to the Advanced Search page
  2. Select Author – AU from the dropdown menu on the right side that says Anywhere
  3. Click Look up Authors
  4. Look up your author of interest under Enter a name
  5. Select your author from the list
  6. Click Add to search
  7. Click Search on the Advanced Search page
  8. If anyone has cited your author, it will say Cited by under the article title and information in the results list. 


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