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Bibliometrics & Research Impact: Author Level Metrics


Author-level metrics measure the impact of the scholarly output of a single researcher. Author-level metrics are designed to help researchers assess the cumulative impact of their work, rather than the impact of a single publication. All author-level metrics are derived from article-level metrics: they aggregate or summarise the impact of an author's publications.

Notes and Limitations

As a "general rule of thumb:

  • If an academic shows good citation metrics, it is very likely that he or she has made a significant impact on the field.

"However, the reverse is not necessarily true. If an academic shows weak citation metrics, this may be caused by a lack of impact on the field, but also by one or more of the following:

  • Working in a small field (therefore generating fewer citations in total);
  • Publishing in a language other than English (LOTE - effectively also restricting the citation field);
  • Publishing mainly (in) books."

Source: Anne-Wil Harzing, Publish or Perish


The h-index is intended to reflect ongoing impact. A h-index of x for an author signifies that the author has published x papers each of which has been cited at least x times. It is a commonly used indicator of research output which reflects both the number of publications and the distribution of citations to those publications.

A h-index of 5 for an author signifies that the author has published 5 papers each of which has been cited at least 5 times. A h index can be created for a single author or a research unit. It is important to remember that the index is only useful in comparing scientists at the same career stage and working within the same field as citation conventions differ substantially between disciplines.

h-index example

Author Level Metrics in Google Scholar

Main author metrics

  • Number of publications: Simply the number outputs, this is just a measure of productivity, and not necessarily impact (citations).
  • Number of citations: Conversely, just a measure of citations (impact) and not necessarily productivity.
  • Citations per Publication: A little more sophisticated, but if used in isolation is open to outliers (whereby one or two outputs are heavily cited, raising the metric).
  • h-Index: A measure of quality AND quantity.
  • Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI): A metric that accounts for both discipline and timescale
  • International Collaboration: The percentage of your publications that have international collaborators

It is important to note that whilst the methodology used to create the metrics across systems will be the same the underlying dataset differences will result in variances. 

Author level metrics in Scopus

Author level metrics in Web of Science