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Bibliometrics are quantitative measures that indicate influence or interest in academic research.  They can help to identify key authors and journals within a particular area, and they can also guide searching within academic literature.  The main bibliometric databases are Web of ScienceScopus and the associated tool SciVal.   The 2014 REF considered bibliometrics and, while they are not a replacement for peer-review, the future REF plans to take them into consideration.  

Two 'golden rules' are to always use more than one metric (e.g. do not use Impact Factors alone to assess the quality of journals) and to use the context in which the metrics are generated to judge their relevance (e.g. metrics are less meaningful in some subject areas, such as the arts, as the above mentioned databases do not fully cover these areas). 

This page aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions the Library receives about metrics.



If you need further help, please contact the Research Outputs team ( who are based in the Library. Or you may like to come along to the bibliometrics workshop on the Researcher Development Programme.


What are bibliometrics?

Bibliometrics include a range of things, some of which you may already be familiar with. For example, the number of times a journal article has been cited, or the Impact Factor of a journal.

They indicate the degree of influence that a particular journal or article has. They can also relate to a specific academic.

Bibliometrics are typically derived from the two main bibliographical databases; Web of Science (Thomson-Reuters) and Scopus (Elsevier). 

There are a couple of things to watch out for:-

The quick reference guide explains the key metrics, and the Snowball guide explains when each metric can (and should) be used.




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How can I ensure that metrics about me are accurate?

The metrics in Scopus, Web of Science and SciVal are derived from the details you add to your publications. These databases run a complex 'matching algorithm' to identify which articles 'belong' to you.  There are a number of things you should do to ensure this algorithm is accurate. 

Please check your details on Web of Science and Scopus to ensure they are correct. If you notice errors, then use the contact forms on the Web of Science and Scopus websites to request that they make any necessarily corrections.  Click here for further instructions.

Please be aware that if you are working in a subject area that the main databases (i.e. Web of Science and Scopus) do not fully cover, then it follows that the metrics about you on these systems will not be accurate. For example, academics working in the arts and some humanities subject areas may find that these data bases do not list all of their publications.  To see if this applies to you, details of the coverage can be found here: Web of Science database coverage and Scopus database coverage.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that having a profile on Google scholar can also be a valuable way of promoting your work. However, please be sure to either set up your profile using a personal email address, or if you leave Portsmouth make sure that you change the email address to your new institution before your UoP computing account is removed.

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How can I look up my own metrics, or another academic's metrics?


Scopus h-index

Metrics about an individual academic includes the number of articles they have published, total number of citations, number of co-authors and so on. Each author has a profile on Scopus, which displays these metrics (above). To view yours, log into Scopus and search for your name.

A metric that is often discussed is an academic's H-index. Their H-index is the number of papers (n) they have published that have n or more citations. For example, an academic's H-index is 7 if she/he has published 7 papers that have 7 or more citations each.

Finding my own (or another academic's) H-index:-

Things to be aware of:-


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How can I look up the metrics for a journal?


These metrics give an indication of the 'quality' of a particular journal.  There are a number of these metrics, which are calculated in slightly different ways.  A question that's often asked is 'which metric should I use?' This is quite a difficult to answer as there are pros and cons of each.  While the Impact Factor is sometimes seen as the 'baseline' standard metric, to gain a full picture, it's recommended you explore a range of metrics. 


Journal metrics derived from the Scopus database:-



Journal metrics derived from the Web of Science database:-



In addition to these metrics, the researchers in the area of business use the ABS Academic Journal Guide, which provides a ranked list of journals. 

You may also like to look at the info on how to tell which journals to avoid.


You can also see the SNIP and SJR metric in Pure, using the Metric tab as per the screenshot below.

Pure screen shot metrics


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How can I look up the metrics for an article?

The citation count is the number of times an article has been cited by other academic research. To find this in Web of Science please see the Web of Science library guide.  In Scopus the citation count is shown on the right of the article (below).  Google Scholar also gives a citation count, though it's important to be aware of the limitations outlined below.  

Scopus citatons


You can also see the SNIP and SJR metric in Pure, using the Metric tab as per the screenshot of Pure above.


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How can I get an overview of the whole University?

You can do this using SciVal. SciVal draws data from Scopus and presents it in a way that allows you to easily get an overview of Portsmouth, and also compare Portsmouth to other universities (explained below).

All staff and students can access SciVal - login instructions.

When you login, you'll see three main tabs: Overview, Benchmarking and Collaboration.

SciVal overview tab

The Overview tab gives a summary of a particular university, department or research group (see above). You can look at Portsmouth or any other university.


SciVal benchmarking tab

The Benchmarking tab allows you to compare universities, departments and research groups (see above).


 SciVal collaborators tab

The Collaboration tab allows you to explore who Portsmouth (or any other university or business) has published with (see above).

The Quick Guide to SciVal gives more detailed information about what SciVal can do.

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How can I compare Portsmouth to other universities?

You can do this using the Benchmarking tab in SciVal (see above).  To access the Benchmarking tab -


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How can I compare my department or research group with an equivalent research group or department at another university?

You can use SciVal (login instructions) to compare department or research groups at Portsmouth with equivalent departments and research groups at other universities. 

To do this, you will need to go into the My SciVal tab (top-right of the screen) and create groups containing the relevant researchers from Portsmouth and the researchers from the other university.

You can then use the Benchmarking tab to make comparisons. 

For more information, please contact

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How can I find out who Portsmouth is collaborating with?

A powerful feature of SciVal is the way in which its Collaboration tab (see above) allows you to identify and analyse existing and potential collaboration opportunities based on publication output and citation impact. You can do this using the Collaboration tab -

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How can I find experts working in a particular area?

You can do this in SciVal using the Research Areas facility. To do this -

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How can I investigate the effect of adding a particular new academic to my research group or department?

My SciVal

This can be done in SciVal (login instructions).  This can use useful to predict the effect that a particular new academic joining Portsmouth could have on the key metrics. 

To do this, you will need to create a Research Group containing your existing academics and then add the new academic to that group.  You can do this in the My SciVal tab (above).

Once you have done this, you can then see the effect adding this individual has on the metrics using the Benchmarking tab.

For more information, please contact

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Are metrics also recorded in Pure?

Yes - Pure automatically pulls in metrics from Scopus and attached them to article in Pure, for example the number of citations received and the metrics for the journal.  

To view these metrics in Pure, open the output record and click on metrics in the left-hand menu (below).

Pure metrics

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How does Pure relate to the bibliometrics databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science?

These systems have different purposes.  Pure is an internal University of Portsmouth system, which holds details (and increasingly the full-text) of the publications produced by Portsmouth academics, along with detailed information about other aspects of their research, such as funding, impact, press coverage etc.  The purpose of Pure is to manage and promote the research activities taking place at Portsmouth.

Conversely, the main bibliometric databases (i.e. Web of Science, Scopus and SciVal) are international databases, which hold data about publications produced by academics across the world.  Unlike Pure, they do not cover the other aspects of the research life-cycle, and nor to they hold a copy of the full-text.

Therefore, each university now has its own Pure (or equivalent system) and also subscriptions to Web of Science, Scopus and SciVal.  However, to integrate the systems, we now pull some metrics into Pure from Scopus and the Web of Science (see above).  

This raises the question of whether we actually need to look at Scopus, Web of Science and SciVal directly or whether we can just look at the metrics via Pure?  The answer is that if you just want a quick look at specific metrics on a particular article then you can look at them via Pure (see above), but if you want to explore the metrics in any depth (e.g. to answer the questions covered on this page) then you do need to go into Scopus/Web of Science/SciVal themselves. 


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How can I find out the attention (e.g. on social media) that an article has received?

Whereas bibliometrics look at citation counts, Impact Factors, h-indexes etc, altmetrics look things like mentions in the news, twitter, blogs, and social media traffic distribution across the world.  Altmetrics is the name of the overall topic, though one of the main companies is called, and another is Impact Story.

T‌he library has an account with If you would like to know the altmetrics for a particular article then please contact (Research Outputs Manager).


This demo page on the PLOS mashup site show altmetrics in action.  Click on the coloured circle icon next to the title of a paper.  Altmetrics are increasingly being used as an indicator of research impact. However, they should be treated with caution. They really measure the amount of 'attention' being paid to a piece of research, but they do not show whether this attention is positive or negative. So altmetrics should be considered as being additional to bibliometrics, as opposed to being a replacement.‌

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Limitations of Google Scholar

When explaining bibliometrics, a common question is how does Google Scholar fit in?  There is nothing wrong with using Google scholar to find research, but it's useful to know its limitations.

Unlike Web of Science, you do not know how Google Scholar is generating its search results, and so you need to judge the validity of the sources for yourself.  This also means that you don't know whether the sources included in Google Scholar's bibliometrics (e.g. the citation count) are of a high enough quality. So often the same bibliometric is higher when generated from Google Scholar, compared to Web of Science or Scopus.

Also, bibliometrics aside, while Google Scholar searches some of the resources that the Library subscribes to, it does not cover them all. So relying on Google Scholar alone could mean you miss out on things.  Google Scholar also does not have the number of options for refining your search as Web of Science (screen shot below).


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