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Trinity University's Open Access Policy for Faculty

Learn about our OA policy, guidelines for negotiating with publishers, and depositing your scholarship in the Digital Commons

Ways to Measure your Scholarly Impact

  1. Journal Impact Factor (IF)
  2. Article-Level Metrics
  3. Altmetrics

Altmetrics Tools

Altmetrics tools for individual researchers:

  • ORCID (free)
    • Creates a unique, persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other authors
    • Imports your citations from other online repositories into a researcher profile
    • Provides information to altmetrics tools like ImpactStory
  • ImpactStory (subscription required)
    • Creates a researcher profile
    • Imports your citations from online sources, or lets you manually add them
    • For each citation, shows altmetrics statistics from social media, citation managers, repositories, and more

Altmetrics tools for institutions:

Institutions can choose to embed altmetrics in their institutional repositories or researcher profiles. Two commonly used services are and Plum Analytics. Both of these tools index a wide range of altmetrics. 

What's Wrong with using Journal Impact Factor (IF)?

Traditionally, scholarly impact has been measured through citations, specifically citations from journal articles to journal articles. However, since citations to individual articles tend to be slow to accumulate, as a proxy, researchers, administrators, and funders have relied upon the aggregate impact of the journal in which an article appeared. This is measured by the Journal Impact Factor, now produced by Thomson Reuters.

Wikipedia defines the Journal Impact Factor as "a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal... In any given year, the impact factor of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years."


Unfortunately, the Journal Impact Factor is not an appropriate tool for assessing the impact of individual articles. Why?

  • Most citations accrued by a journal are a small number of the journal's articles; the article under evaluation may or may not be highly cited.
  • Journal Impact Factors can be "gamed" by editorial policy, for example through requiring authors to cite other articles that appeared in the journal or by commissioning review articles which tend to receive a lot of citations.

For these reasons, a movement against the inappropriate use of Journal Impact Factors is gaining momentum. In 2013 the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was released. It offered this general recommendation: "Do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist's contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions."

What is the Alternative?

Article-Level Metrics

Article-Level Metrics are an attempt to measure impact at the article level. They can include traditional measures of impact such as citation counts as well as newer metrics like the number of times an article was downloaded. Article-level metrics can also include altmetrics (see below). 

While article-level metrics are by definition limited to scholarly articles, some of the tools discussed in this guide can help you identify citations to other individual research products, e.g. books or book chapters. 

A growing number of journals and publishing platforms are making article-level metrics available. For example, article-level metrics are provided for every article published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS). Metrics include total article views and downloads; citation data from SCOPUSWeb of ScienceCrossRef, and Google Scholar; bookmarks in Mendeley; and mentions on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

Other journals, including Nature, offer similar metrics from, while journals published on the HighWire platform incorporate metrics from ImpactStory. 

And Trinity University faculty who have archived their articles in our Digital Commons or SelectedWorks receive an email each month with the number of times each article has been downloaded.



Altmetrics measure the impact not only of journal articles but a diverse array of online scholarly outputs such as books, book chapters, data sets, computer code, presentation slides, posters, blog posts, digital humanities projects, and websites.