Publication Metrics

Publication Metrics

Jamie L. Conklin and Marilyn H. Oermann

Nurse Author & Editor, 2017, 27(3), 2

Are you familiar with the metrics used to describe the impact of journals and your work?  How are others using your articles in their own research, teaching, and clinical practice? The goal of this article is to describe various publication metrics and how to access them. One way to categorize these metrics is by journal, article, and author.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics, such as Impact Factor and CiteScore, measure the frequency with which all articles within a journal are cited.

Impact Factor

  • Definition: the ratio of citations to articles in a journal in the current year to the articles published in that journal during the previous 2 years. Impact factor is based on the number of times articles in a journal are cited in other journals indexed in the Web of Science database.
  • Access: reported in Journal Citation Reports™ [requires subscription]
  • Directions: Type in the journal name of interest, and if it is indexed, click on it within the results to view the impact factor and other metrics.
  • Notes: Web of Science includes two journal indexes, the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). There are only 116 nursing journals in the SCIE and 114 in the SSCI, so the best journal for your manuscript may not be indexed. Click here for more information about Journal Citation Reports™.


  • Definition: The average number of times, in the past 3 years, that documents have been cited in Scopus. Documents include articles, conference proceedings, editorials, notes, news items, and other content.
  • Access: reported for free on; also available through Scopus [requires subscription].
  • Directions: Type in the journal name of interest, and if it is indexed, you will see the CiteScore and related data.
  • Notes: CiteScore is a new journal metric introduced recently by Elsevier for journals indexed in Scopus. The Scopus database includes twice as many journals as Web of Science and many more nursing journals. For more information about CiteScore and nursing journals, see Oermann and Conklin (2017).

Eigenfactor Score

  • Definition: The number of times in the past 5 years that articles from the journal were cited in the Journal Citation Reports. The Eigenfactor score considers which journals have contributed these citations and removes journal self-citations.
  • Access: reported for free at; also reported in Journal Citation Reports™ [requires subscription]
  • Directions: Type in the journal name of interest to view the Eigenfactor Score.
  • Notes: Click here for more information on advantages of this metric and FAQs.

Article Metrics

You can search for citations of your articles to determine who has cited them and in what journals and other types of publications your work has been cited. Cited reference searching can be done in:

Web of Science

The Web of Science database requires a subscription. Change the “Basic Search” to “Cited Reference Search” above the search box. Type in your name and click “Search.” Alternately, type in the title of your article and click “Search.”


Scopus database requires a subscription. Type in the title of your article and click “Search.” The “Cited By” column shown on the right side shows the number of citing articles. Alternately, you can search for yourself as an author. To do so, change the search option from “Documents” to “Authors” above the search box. Type in your name and click “Search.”

CINAHL Complete

The CINAHL database requires a subscription. Click on “More” in the blue bar at the top of the page. Choose “Cited References” from the menu. Enter your name in the appropriate box, and click “Search.” CINAHL will return articles that you authored. Then check the boxes next to the articles for which you want to find citing articles. Click “Find Citing Articles.”

Downloads and Views

You can also track article impact by identifying how frequently an article has been viewed or downloaded. Many journals now report these statistics. Other places to find this information include:


  • Definition: Altmetrics indicates the number of times your article is viewed, downloaded, saved, and discussed by others in social media, news outlets, online policy documents, and more. The dissemination of your article online is shown by the Altmetric donut, which provides a visualization of the attention of your article in news outlets, blogs, tweets, Facebook, and others. Altmetrics is intended to supplement citations not replace them.
  • Access: Find your article at the website of the journal in which it was published and look for the Altmetric donut there. Find other free tools, including an Altmetric Bookmarklet, at Some institutions, publishers, and funders provide subscription access to AlmetricExplorer.


A free reference management system, Mendeley also has a detailed breakdown of your statistics (citations within Scopus, views within ScienceDirect, readers within Mendeley) by article, including trends. You can sign up to receive these Mendeley Stats.

Author Impact

You can report the impact of your research and scholarship through cited reference analysis discussed earlier:  who is citing your work and in what journals?  Most importantly, how are your research findings, teaching innovations, practice initiatives, and other work being used by others?  Track your citations through the literature to learn about your impact. There also are metrics to assess your impact in a field.


  • Definition: The h-index was developed to assess an author’s impact by measuring the citations to an individual’s most cited articles. It was first described by Hirsch (2005), who defined it as an individual having h papers with at least h citations. For example, if you have published 10 articles and each of those has been cited at least 10 times, then your h-index is 10. When you publish your 11th article, to increase your h-index, all 11 top cited articles must be cited at least 11 times.
  • Access: Find your h-index in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases. The h-index will vary depending on the database you use.
  • Web of Science Directions: Log into Web of Science (requires subscription). Perform an Author search for your name. When reviewing results, click “Create Citation Report” on the right side. Your h-index will then display on the right. Note that you can use checkboxes to remove items you do not want in your citation report. Your h-index in this database will likely be lower than in the other databases because there are fewer nursing journals in the Web of Science.
  • Scopus Directions: Log into Scopus (requires subscription). Select the Authors search option above the search bar. Insert your name (if you have a common name, include additional initials). You also can search by your ORCiD (Watson, 2017). Look for your Scopus Author results and click your name to go to the “Author Details” page. Your h-index is on this page. Record your Scopus ID for use with future h-index searches.
  • Google Scholar Directions: Download Harzing’s Publish or Perish ( Search for your name, and your h-index will appear at the top of the page. Publish or Perish uses the Advanced Scholar Search in Google Scholar. Alternately, you can create a profile of your articles in Google Scholar Citations.


  • Definition: The g-index was suggested in 2006 by Egghe. With your articles ranked in decreasing order of number of citations, the g-index is the largest number of highly cited articles for which the average number of citations is at least n. In comparison to h-index, g-index gives more weight to highly cited articles.
  • Access: Download Harzing’s Publish or Perish ( Search for your name, and your g-index will appear at the top of the page.


Nurse authors should be aware of the various types of metrics that can be used to evaluate journal, article, and author impact, as well as understand these metrics’ limitations. For example, journal metrics measure the frequency of citations to a journal not to the quality of articles and value of the information to readers. Therefore, the best journal for submission of your manuscript may have a low impact factor and CiteScore, or may not even be indexed in those databases to have an impact factor or CiteScore.

Through cited reference analysis, you can track your articles to determine who is citing them and in which journals and other types of publications they are being cited. Are other nurses and health care professionals using your research in their own studies?  Is your research being transferred into the clinical practice literature?  What educators are using your teaching innovations and in what ways?  Cited reference analysis can answer these questions and others about your scholarship. You also can assess your impact in the field with metrics such as the h-index. These are a few of the more common publication metrics. Use them wisely.


  1. Egghe, L. (2006). Theory and practise of the g-index. Scientometrics, 69(1), 131–152.
  2. Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(46), 16569–16572.
  3. Oermann, M. H., & Conklin, J. L. (2017). CiteScore and nursing journals. Nurse Author & Editor, 27(2), 3. Retrieved from
  4. Watson, R. (2017). Grow your ORCiD profile. Nurse Author & Editor, 27(2), 2. Retrieved from

About the Authors

Jamie L. Conklin, MSLIS, is Research & Education Librarian and Liaison to the School of Nursing, Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives, Durham, North Carolina, USA. You can email her at:

Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, is Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is Editor of Nurse Educator and the Journal of Nursing Care Quality. Email:

NAE 2017 27 3 2 Conklin Oermann

Copyright 2017: The Authors. May not be reproduced without permission.
Journal Complication Copyright 2017: John Wiley and Son Ltd.