About bibliometrics

Last changed: 02 November 2022
A folding rule measures a pile of dissertations, photo.

Bibliometrics is a set of methods for quantitative analyses of research publications, but also a reserarch field on it's own. A basic understanding of bibliometrics makes life easier for everyone who is active in the world of research.

What is bibliometrics?

Bibliometrics is a set of methods for quantitative analysis of scientific publications. Bibliometric indicators, based on number of publications and number of citations, are used for the analyses. H-index and Impact Factors are two examples of indicators. The number of publications is used as a measure of scientific productivity and the number of citations as a measure of scientific impact.

As a complement to bibliometrics there are alternative measures, so called altmetrics, which include number of visits at the site of or downloads of a publication, or comments on it in social media.

How can you use bibliometrics?

At SLU, you have access to a number of citation databases with associated analytic tools. Here you can see the citation data for your own publications, find out which articles and journals can be considered core articles or core journals within a specific subject area, or evaluate journals to publish in.

Bibliometrics as a research field

Bibliometrics is frequently used in evaluation of research publications but is also a research field in itself. Bibliometrical analyses can be used to identify research areas and trends, for example by analysing patterns of publishing, collaboration and occurrences of theories and methods in large data sets. Contact us for a discussion about bibliometric analyses and what we can contribute with! 

A critical approach

Many factors can influence the result from a citation analysis, the value of an indicator or the possibility to make adequate comparisons. On this page we have listed some issues to take into account.

  • The data source used to retrieve the publications – the result will differ depending on the database, since the databases have different contents (publication types, subject coverage, time coverage, size of the database).
  • The data source used to gather the citations – usually the citation data are gathered from the same database as the publications, but exceptions do occur.
  • The age of the publications, document type, (published in peer-reviewed journal or not, article or review) and subject area.
  • Are self-citations included or removed?
  • Is it possible to make adequate comparisons? Different subject areas have different publication- and citation cultures. For a comparison between subject areas it is necessary to use advanced bibliometric indicators.
  • Are the analysis/indicators presented together with other information? h-index alone is often misleading. h-index should preferably be shown together with at least an overview of yearly number of publications and citations, and a list of the publications.