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Assessing Article and Author Influence


Article-Level Metrics

Different from Journal Impact

Traditionally, scholarly article influence was measured by the impact of the journal which originally published the work. For a description of that process, see our guide, Assessing Journal Quality.

There are many reasons to measure impact of individual authors or articles apart from the journals in which they publish. Greater speed of feedback and superior relationship mapping and influence tracking can be accomplished at the article level.

"The prevalence for online journal usage data means that alternative metrics to traditional citations now play a significant role in assessing (with greater immediacy) the use, impact and wider reach of a research article. Making these metrics available at the article level also recognizes the need for research to be judged independently of the journal in which it has been published." IOPscience



SPARC has released an excellent primer on Article-Level Metrics.

Important characteristics of ALM cited in the primer:

  • ALMs offer a new and effective way to disaggregate an individual article’s impact from the publication in which it appears.
  •  ALMs aggregate a variety of data points that collectively quantify not only the impact of an article, but also the extent to which it has been socialized and its immediacy.
  • ALMs pull from two distinct data streams: scholarly visibility and social visibility.
  •  ALMs provide different markers of an article’s reach, beyond just citations.  ALMs can incorporate... news coverage, blog posts, tweets, Facebook likes, download statistics and article comments.  Collectively, these data points can present a much fuller perspective of an article’s impact over time.
  • ALMs have the potential to complement existing metrics and add critical nuance to the tenure and promotion process.  ALMs are both more granular and more immediate than traditional benchmarks.

Decoupling the Journal Article

"The journal is built around the delivery of ink and paper by horses and boats. Today, we have better ink and faster horses, but no fundamental change. This change, especially in an institution as conservative as the academy, is not easy and takes time.


We suggest that this revolution will result in a more diverse and decentralized metajournal. In this DcJ, authors will publish any sort of product they create. They will adapt their work's form and make it retrievable with the help of external service providers. They will market it over richly connected networks with the help of specialists or without. They will certify it in dozens of ways, using hundreds or thousands of competing stamping and ranking agencies and algorithms. And all this data will be managed, organized, and curated by a set of relevance and ranking tools that will present customized views of the metajournal for scholars, practitioners, and administrators alike."

Priem J and Hemminger BM (2012) Decoupling the scholarly journal. Front. Comput. Neurosci. 6:19. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00019

Google Scholar Metrics

Google Scholar


Google Scholar Metrics (GSM) allows one to gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly journals. Particularly interesting is GSM’s listing of the top 100 publications in several languages, ordered by their five-year h-index and h-median metrics.

PLoS Article Level Metrics


PLoS Article-Level Metrics measure the dissemination and reach of published research articles.

Traditionally, the impact of research articles has been measured by the publication journal. But a more informative view is one that examines the overall performance and reach of the articles themselves. Article-Level Metrics are a comprehensive set of impact indicators that enable numerous ways to assess and navigate research most relevant to the field itself, including:

  • usage
  • citations
  • social bookmarking and dissemination activity
  • media and blog coverage
  • discussion activity and ratings

Article-Level Metrics are available, upon publication, for every article published by PLOS.

Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Elliott Hibbler
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O'Neill Library
Subjects: Copyright, Law