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Evaluating Scholarly Publications for Tenure and Promotion: Quantitative Measures

This guide will help you find evidence of the value of your publications to use in your FAR.

Becker Model for Assessing the Impact of Research

The Becker Model gives a framework for tracking the diffusion of research outputs and allows users to determine different types of impact. Note that this was developed specifically for biomedical research so it may take some alterations to fit other fields.

Specific categories of benefits:

  • Advancement of Knowledge
  • Clinical Implementation
  • Community Benefit
  • Legislation and Policy
  • Economic Benefit

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License image  Assessing the Impact of Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

SCImago Journal Rankings

These are similar to the Journal Impact Factors but they are based on journals indexed in Scopus. While Briggs Library does not subscribe to the Scopus database, the rankings and factor scores are free at

See the tab called Potential Risks for information on problems using impact factors (or journal rankings based on those factors) for evaluating faculty publications.

Google PageRank Algorithm

This measure uses the algorithm developed by Google called Google PageRank. It is one of the algorithms Google uses to determine in which order to present pages in a search result. It is intended to show the visibility of a journal indexed in Scopus.


A self-citation is when an article in a journal cites another article in the same journal. SJR gives both the total number of citations and the number of those citations that are self-citations.

Citable Content

Not all content of a journal is considered citable. Editorials, letters, and other materials like these are not generally expected to be cited in future research and are considered uncitable. SJR includes citations to this content as well but also gives the number of citation exclusively to articles, reviews and conference papers.

Cites per Document

This measure looks at the average number of citations per document over a period of time. There are 2 year, 3 year, and 4 year measures. In looking at the 2 year citations per document figure for 2013 for Journal X, all the citations from 2013 are searched for Journal X articles from 2012 and 2011. The number of citable articles in Journal X in 2011 and 2012 is divided by the number of citations those articles received in 2013.

% International Collaboration

The percentage of articles that include authors from multiple countries are included.

Putting it into perspective

Journals are listed in rank order within SCImago categories and this journal ranking will help put the numbers in perspective. Some of the categories do not make a lot of sense; however. For instance there is no category for sociology, just one for sociology and political science. All sociology journals are ranked within the political science journals and vice versa.


Tthe numerical data is available under the data tab. There are plenty of graphics like the one below that can also be helpful.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank


Eigenfactors are designed to measure the importance of publications in science. They use data from the Thomson Reuters science and social science citation databases and the Journal Citation Reports. Journals that have impact factors also have eigenfactors. Some journals that are referred to in the citation indexes but are not directly indexed by Thomson Reuters also have eigenfactors even if they do not have impact factors. Currently, there are impact factors for around 7,000 journals and eigenfactors for over 12,000.

See the tab called Potential Risks for information on problems using impact factors (or journal rankings based on those factors) for evaluating faculty publications.

The eigenfactor is a much more complex calculation than the journal impact factor that takes into account more than the number of articles published and how many times those articles are cited. The eigenfactor gives more weight to citations in highly prestigious journals such as Nature or Cell than to those in third-tier journals. Also, different citation patterns in different disciplines is taken into account. In essence, the eigenfactor uses networking theory to figure the importance of specific journals.

There are several scores that may be of interest within the eigenfactor.

Eigenfactor Score: "The Eigenfactor® score of a journal is an estimate of the percentage of time that library users spend with that journal." Retrieved 4-29-13 from

Article Influence Score: These are similar to the journal impact factor and attempt to determine the average influence of an article in a journal. These scores are normalized so the mean article in the entire Journal Citation Reports would have an article influence score of 1.00.

Cost-Effectiveness Score: Although the cost of a journal is not directly taken into account in either the journal impact factor or the article influence score, recognizes that some journals are so costly that many researchers will not have access to the contents. A cost-effectiveness score is also provided to help determine if the cost actually influences (either positively or negatively) the article influence score or the eigenfactor score. is the free website which lists all eigenfactors.

Journal Impact Factors


This box talks specifically about journal impact factors as published by Journal Citation Reports. There are an increasing number of fraudulent impact factors in existence designed to assist weak or predatory journals. If you are not sure about an impact factor, please contact your librarian to find out more information about it.

See the tab called Potential Risks for information on problems using impact factors (or journal rankings based on those factors) for evaluating faculty publications.


According to Eugene Garfield, "The impact factor is one of these; it is a measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' in a journal has been cited in a particular year or period. The annual JCR impact factor is a ratio between citations and recent citable items published. Thus, the impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the numbers of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years" (1994).

In recent years the Journal Citation Reports have added a five-year impact factor in recognition that in many fields articles grow in influence over more than two years.

Note that these numbers are not related to a specific article - they refer only to a journal as a whole.

The Journal Impact Factor was originally designed as a metric to help librarians determine what journals would be most beneficial to their collections, not as a way to actually evaluate the quality of the information contained in the journal.


journal impact factor for Biochemical Genetics

(image is part of a screenshot from Journal Citation Reports, 2012 for the journal Biochemical Genetics)

The example above gives the Journal Impact Factor calculation for the two year impact factor for the journal Biochemical Genetics.

Only articles that are indexed in the Science Citation Index are counted in these citation statistics. There were 59 articles published in 2011 that cited 2010 articles in Biochemical Genetics while there were 97 articles published in 2011 that cited 2009 articles in Biochemical Genetics. That is a total of 156 articles published in 2011 that cited articles published in Biochemical Genetics in either 2009 or 2010.

Biochemical Genetics published 92 citable articles in 2010 and 89 in 2009 for a total of 181 articles.

The impact factor is simply the number of citations divided by the number of published articles or 156/181. Thus the impact factor is 0.862. The average article in Biochemical Genetics will be cited .862 times in the two years after it is published.

The five year impact factor is calculated the same way but with more years of data and is shown below for the same journal. This is more useful in many fields.

5 year journal impact factor for Biochemical Genetics

(image is part of a screenshot from Journal Citation Reports, 2012 for the journal Biochemical Genetics)

Pros and cons of using impact factors in faculty evaluations

  • Objective - simply count articles and citations
  • Simple - even those without statistical expertise can calculate and understand them
  • Vulnerable to manipulation and misuse - requirements for multiple citations to works in a specific journal that have even a remote relavance to the current topic
  • Mere citations do not indicate the value or quality of a journal
  • Concern with impact factors can cause authors to choose a less relevant journal with a higher impact factor and miss some of the most relevant audience
  • Journal impact factors are biased towards high-profile fields with rapid turnover of discoveries
  • Very heavily biased toward English language publications and citations in English language publications
  • Journals that publish a lot of review articles will have much higher impact factors as citations to review articles tend to be high
  • Citation errors can negatively effect an impact factor
  • Citations are counted only if they occur in titles published in the Social Sciences or Science Citation Indexes leaving out those in books and other journals
  • Books and book chapters do not have impact factors
  • Higher cost journals may have lower accessibility and, therefore, fewer citations and a lower impact factor


Garfield, E. (1994). The ISI impact factor. Essays: Journal of citatations.  Retrieved 4/22/13, from
Johnstone, M. J. (2007). Journal impact factors: Implications for the nursing profession. 54, 35-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-7657.2007.00527.x
Beall, J. (2013, August 6). Look out for bogus impact factor companies. [Web log message]. Retrieved from (This blog has been removed as of January 2017)

Journal Rankings based on Journal Impact Factor

The Journal Citation Reports database includes not only the Journal Impact Factors and the Eigenfactor, but you can find where your journal falls in the list of journals within a specific category. When you look at the category data, you can see how many journals are included in the category. Then you can view a list of journals in that category (go back to the welcome screen and view a group of journals by subject category then choose your category). You can choose to sort the list of journals by either 2-year or 5-year impact factor and find where your journal is in the ranking.

See the tab called Potential Risks for information on problems using impact factors (or journal rankings based on those factors) for evaluating faculty publications.

Publish or Perish Software

This free software uses Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search to find citations for an individual and then analyzes them with the following metrics.

  • Total number of papers and total number of citations
  • Average citations per paper, citations per author, papers per author, and citations per year
  • Hirsch's h-index and related parameters
  • Egghe's g-index
  • The contemporary h-index
  • Three variations of individual h-indices
  • The average annual increase in the individual h-index
  • The age-weighted citation rate
  • An analysis of the number of authors per paper.

Get the software for Windows, Mac OS X, or GNU/Linux here.

Publication Acceptance Rates

The acceptance rate (the number of articles accepted divided by the number of articles submitted) can be evidence of the quality of your article and the publication. The actual calculation for the acceptance rate can vary by journal. Some journals count every manuscript submitted and others allow an editor to choose which articles to send on to reviewers and count only those sent on. Not all journals publish their acceptance rates.

Acceptance rates are sometimes available from the journal or association web site but can be difficult to locate. You can start by searching a general search engine such as Google or Bing for the journal name and the term "acceptance rate".

You can also try contacting the editor of a journal to see if the journal will release that information to you.

Citations to and Downloads of Your Article

Citation Counts

For articles that have been around for several months or more, one test of quality might be the number of citations to your article. There are several places to find citation counts and some are better counts than others. You can certainly list the citation counts for several databases but don't simply add them together. Below are some of the databases that count citations to works but be sure to check those databases that you typically search to find articles in your field.

Download and View Counts

You can include the number of times your article has been downloaded or viewed. Many journal websites include that information.

Taylor and Francis Journal webpage for an article showing how many downloads there have been of that article. 

Downloads and Views


By including your work in Open PRAIRIE (SDSU's institutional repository), you can get the number of downloads from the repository and include information on where the download came from.

Selection of a map showing there were 9 downloads of an article in Open PRAIRIE from Japan or South Korea
Readership of an article in Japan or South Korea


The h-index or Hirsch Index is designed to measure the quality of a scientific researcher based on both the productivity and the impact of the scientist.

The h-index looks at a researcher's most cited works and the number of citations those works have gotten. A researcher's h-index grows over time so it must be considered with the researcher's "academic age". Also, the h-index will depend on the field of study.

One advantage of this measure over impact factors is that this is a measure of the individual's impact, not of one article or of the journal in which that article was published.

Jorge E. Hirsch, the creator of the h-index, has shown a correlation between the h-index and the likelihood that a researcher has won major prizes such as membership in The National Academy of Science or a Nobel Prize.

Find the h-index in the Web of Science. Search for yourself as author then click on "Create Citation Report" in the right column. The h-index will be listed with some other statistics.

Create the h-index for your work including work not included in Web of Science databases using the Publish or Perish software (available for free). Get the software for Windows or Mac OS X or GNU/Linux here.

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