Skip to Main Content

Bibliometric Measures in Citation-Tracking Databases: Introduction

Table of Contents

This guide overviews bibliometric measures available in the citation-tracking databases ScopusWeb of Science, and Google Scholar. This guide explores the bibliometric data available in these tools, rather than their general searching functionality! In particular, this guide explores:

To learn about searching these or other databases, please contact your Subject Librarian

Mindful use

  • Citation-tracking databases collect and report a range of bibliometric measures, however their publication and citation data is limited to works indexed in that database. For more information about known limitations to citation-tracking tools, see Citation-Tracking.
  • Bibliometric data can support various levels of bibliometric analysis. To understand possible objectives, and appropriate and inappropriate uses of the data at different levels, see: Individual DataDiscipline Data, and Institutional Data.
  • Research productivity, impact, and output naturally differs across disciplines, as does the relevance and usefulness of bibliometric measures. The reality is that citation-tracking databases do not capture these known differences well, both in the bibliometric data offered and indexed content.

Publication behaviours across disciplines, with Neurosciences and Life Sciences having high frequency of publications, length of reference lists, and number of co-authors. Further, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Arts and Humanities having low frequency of publications, length of reference lists, and number of co-authors.

Basket of measures

Bibliometric measures are one data point! A basket of measures approach can lead to a more robust understanding of elements of research productivity and impact. Beyond bibliometric and altmetric measures, other measures used to capture elements of research productivity and impact include:

  • Peer review.
  • Type and amount of intellectual property, e.g., patents, licenses, and spin-offs.
  • Type and amount of research awards and research funding.
  • Highly qualified personnel developed by a researcher or group.
  • Publication acceptance rates.
  • Altmetrics, or alternative metric data based on online conversations (such as blogs, news site, Twitter, etc,) about a published article.

Research metrics and bibliometric measures work together to form a basket of measures that can provide a broader picture than any single measure

Relationship between measures of research productivity and impact, shown by bibliometric measures and research metrics.

To learn more about the topic of bibliometrics, please see Bibliometrics & Measuring Research Output.