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University of Utah Library Guides

Bibliometrics and Impact Factor: Home

This guide explains how impact factor is used and calculated in journal and article rankings, as well as other methods of citation analysis.

Law of Scattering

80% of the citations come from about 20% of the journals cited, identifying a core list for a local journal collection.

Sample Bibliometric Map

Eigenfactor Social Science Citation Relationships 2004

(click on image to enlarge)

Thomson Reuters (ISI Web of Knowledge)

What is Bibliometrics?

  • The branch of library science concerned with the application of mathematical and statistical analysis to bibliography; the statistical analysis of books, articles, or other publications. ("bibliometrics, n.". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press.)

  • In other words…data about publications, or citation frequency.

  • Scientometrics is the branch of information science concerned with the application of bibliometrics to the study of the spread of scientific ideas; the bibliometric analysis of science. ("scientometrics, n.". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press.)

Why is this important?

Citation Analysis was originally conceived as a way to correct for subjective perception. Instead of just making an educated guess about the most prestigious journal in a field, citation analysis provides a mathematical measure of how many articles from the journal have been cited over a specific time frame, adding a measure of objectivity.

As a supplement to the peer review process, citation analysis can also be used to measure how an individual's publications have affected his or her field. This information is often used in making tenure decisions

Questions citation analysis can help answer:

A student asks you "What are the best journals in the field of Anthropology?"

A professor asks you "Who is citing my articles? How many times have I been cited?"

A student asks you "How do I know this article is important?"

A professor asks you "Which journal should I publish in?"

Bibliometrics affects:

  • People
  • Journal collections
  • Research Funding
  • Tenure
  • Expertise status in the field
  • Finding others in the field/subject area (using citation searching)

New Directions

New research is being done to define 'altmetrics' that also define a researcher's impact. The method of communication can vary but is outside of the traditional journal article.

Handout

Here is a printable synopsis of the major concepts discussed in this guide created by Robin Kear at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Acknowledgments

This guide includes content adapted with permission from Robin Kear, Reference/Instruction Librarian, University of Pittsburgh, and Danielle Colbert-Lewis, Reference Librarian, North Carolina Central University.

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