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Research Metrics: Article

This guide provides information on a variety of research metrics.

Article Metrics

Article-Level Metrics measure the "impact" or "reach" of an article in scholarly discourse. Whereas the well-known Impact Factor measures citations at a journal level, article-level metrics aim to measure the impact of individual articles. The best known article-level metric is the number of times an article has been cited. Other article metrics include:

  • page views
  • downloads
  • blog mentions
  • social media tags

PLoS has been the pioneer of many article level metrics and provide an excellent overview of the topic.

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a repository of social science articles, counts article downloads and provides lists of top articles, authors, and institutions based on the download counts.

Also, some Alternative Metrics track at the article level as well.

Citation Tracking

Citation tracking, or citation analysis, is an important tool used to trace scholarly research, measure impact, and inform tenure and funding decisions. The impact of an article is evaluated by counting the number of times an article is cited in others' work. Researchers do citation analysis for several reasons:

  • find out how much impact a particular article has had, by showing which other authors have cited the article in their own paper
  • find out how much impact a particular author has had by looking at the frequency and number of his/her total citations
  • discover more about the development of a field or topic (by reading the papers that cite a seminal work in that area)

The output from citation studies is often the only way that non-specialists in governments and funding agencies, or even those in different scientific disciplines, can judge the importance of a piece of scientific research.

Article Metrics Explained

Here is a video by Taylor and Francis Group explaining what article-level metrics are and why they are important to researchers.

Article Metrics Sources

Logo: Web of Science

Web of Science is a comprehensive database that allows the user to not only see how many times an article has been cited in total, but also how any times it has been cited in the last 180 days.

  • Perform a search
  • Look at the right side of the search results, there you will see "Times Cited" and "Usage Count."
  • Times Cited is the total times the article has been cited.
  • Click on Usage Count, it will display how many times the article has been cited in the last 180 days and since 2013.

Scopus Logo

Scopus provides the user with the number of times an article has been cited in the right hand column of the search results. Currently only works from 1996 to present are covered.

  • Perform a search
  • Look at the right side of the search results, the number is the times that article has been cited, according to Scopus' records.
  • Scroll over the number and click the link to reveal the works that cited that article.

PLoS Logo

Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a nonprofit publisher that has spearheaded article metrics, allowing the user a broader range of metrics to inspect.

  • Perform a search
  • Under each search result there are four metrics listed:
    • Views - How many times the article has been viewed
    • Citations - How many times the article has been cited
    • Saves - How many times the article has been saved by users with PLoS accounts
    • Shares - How many times the article has been shared between PLoS account holders


Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a network that is focused on the dissemination of social science research. They employ a number of article metrics.

  • Perform a search
  • In each search result is listed the total number of downloads
  • Upon clicking on an article, in the top right of the screen is more metrics on each paper, including:
    • Abstract Views - How many times the article's abstract has been viewed
    • Downloads - How many times the article has been downloaded
    • Download Rank - The articles rank among all other articles in the database, based on the number of downloads
    • Citations - How many other papers have cited this article

SSRN also offers a Top Papers page, to promote the top downloaded and cited articles in the database.

Google Scholar Logo

Google Scholar offers a vast breadth of research papers, some of which can be accessed thorough the University of Manitoba's "Get it@UML" button (access it through the link provided and that feature will work). Scholar offers its own article metrics.

  • Perform a search
  • Under each search result, there is listed the number of times the article has been cited according to Google
  • Also, Scholar includes the number of times cited in Web of Science, if available
  • Another useful aspect of Scholar is the Related Articles link, which allows the user to view articles with similar keywords and tags

Article Reviews

Reviews and recommendations of articles are valuable to scholars. Some journals (like Computing Reviews) offer reviews of articles that appear in other journals. Journal clubs are popular because they allow a group to discuss an article in-depth. New social media networking tools allow readers to comment upon and rank articles.

PeerPub is a database of comments on articles. Users can find or introduce articles to the database, and share their comments on those articles.

Other publishers that allow users to comment and rate articles: