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Research Support: Bibliometrics

SETU Carlow Library's guide to assist researchers with all aspects of the research process from finding information to maximising impact.

Introduction to Bibliometrics / Citation Analysis

Bibliometrics refers to the quantitative measures used to assess research output, in other words, publication and citation data analysis. Citation analysis is based on the premise that if an academic shows good citation metrics, it is likely that they have made a significant impact on the field. However, it is important to note that the reverse is not necessarily true. If an academic shows weak citation metrics, that researcher may be publishing:

  • Mainly in books
  • In a language other than English
  • In a small field or in a field not prioritised by the providers of the bibliometric data.

The four main tools for performing a citation analysis are Web of Science, Scopus/SciVal, Dimensions and Google Scholar/Publish or Perish.

Performing Citation Analyses

When undertaking a Citation Analysis it is important to be aware of the following points.

  • Citation databases index only a limited number of peer-reviewed journal titles. They exclude many books and conference proceedings and many articles published in a language other than English.
  • It is important to choose a citation tool that is relevant to your discipline.
  • Authors with the same name. It can be difficult to differentiate between two authors who share the same surname and forename or first initial of their forename.


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 researchers at the same career stage and working within the same field as citation conventions differ substantially between disciplines.

h-index example

Web of Science

The Web of Science is one of the main citation databases used to conduct citation analyses. This is a paid for database and our Web of Science Core Collection subscription includes:

  • Science Citation Index Expanded (1945-present)
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (1956-present)
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (1975-present)
  • Emerging Sources Citation Index (2015-present)

To view selection criteria and to request the inclusion of a journal title in Web of Science click here.

Further information on the Web of Science including tutorials and guides can be found at

Web of Science Citation Analysis Tutorial

For help on doing a citation analysis in Web of Science see this video tutorial.

Google Scholar / Publish or Perish

Publish or Perish is a citation analysis tool developed by Dr. Anne-Wil Harzing of the University of Melbourne which uses Google Scholar citation data. It is free for personal non-profit use and can be installed from

Google Scholar covers more books, theses, conference papers, technical reports and other academic publications than either Web of Science or Scopus. However, coverage in Google Scholar is uncontrolled and there is no definitive list of all publications that are included.

Citation analysis results from Publish or Perish favour those who have personally made their articles available online, for example through institutional or subject repositories.

In addition to Google Scholar, you can also use Publish or Perish to search other data sources such as Microsoft Academic and CrossRef.

Publish or Perish screenshot

SciVal & Scopus

The Elsevier citation analysis tool Scopus can also be used to conduct citation analyses. Scopus indexes peer-reviewed journals, books, book chapters and conference papers.  IT Carlow has subscriptions to both Scopus and, it's companion tool, SciVal. 

SciVal is an analytical research tool from Elsevier that offers quick, easy access to the research performance of over 7,500 research institutions and 220 countries worldwide. Overview and Benchmarking modules are available. SciVal uses Scopus citation data as its data source.

SciVal screenshot

If you wish to receive training in using SciVal please contact or visit Overview module training or Benchmarking module training.


Dimensions is a linked-research data platform that includes citation analysis capability. Within the full subscription version of Dimensions, users can explore the connections between grants, publications, clinical trials, patents and policy documents. There is also a free version that researchers can use to search for relevant publications and view their individual citation metrics.

MyRI - Online Bibliometrics Training Tutorials