Skip to main content
Subject Guides

Bibliometrics: a Practical Guide

Getting started

About this guide

This is a practical guide to help you find and interpret bibliometric data for research publications, using free-to-access and paid-for information sources.

See also the University of York Library 'Information for Researchers' about Citation analysis and bibliometrics, for an overview of terminology, principles and applications in the UK scholarly environment.

Limitations and best uses

Responsible metrics Choose your indicators with care. Don't make inappropriate comparisons.

The University of York Policy for Research Evaluation Using Quantitative Data outlines nine "principles by which research evaluation and assessment should be conducted, ...to enable good practice and provide clarity for staff".

The University takes the position that "there are very few true ‘metrics’ of research performance - they are more accurately ‘indicators’ e.g. citations are an indicator not a measure of research esteem".  This guide uses the term 'indicator' throughout.

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) recognises the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. As of May 2018, the University is a signatory of DORA.


The Metrics Toolkit (2018) has been developed by an international consortium of librarians and academics, to guide researchers and administrators "demonstrating and evaluating claims of research impact", by explaining "what a metric means, how it's calculated, and if it's a good match for your impact question".

Sources of citation data

  • Web of Science (owned by Clarivate; formerly Thomson Reuters) and Scopus (owned by Elsevier) are the best known sources of curated citation data, for subscribing institutions.  
  • Google Scholar provides free access to citation data generated automatically from its processes for indexing bibliographic records.

How to get help

The Library's Research Support TeamContact the Library’s Research Support Team (pictured) for help with accessing and analysing bibliometric data about publications and authors.

Contact the Research Strategy and Policy Office if you are interested in the strategic use of bibliometric data to support departmental or institution-level decision-making.

Training sessions for postgraduate research students and staff

The Library's Research Support Team offer training to postgraduate research students and staff through the Research Excellence Training programme.

New sessions will soon be added for the Autumn Term 2019, on: Research Data Management, Open Access PublicationBibliometricsCopyright and Literature Searching

To book a session go to the: LMS - Staff or SkillsForge - Research Postgraduates (login required)