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Subject Guides

Bibliometrics: a Practical Guide

What are bibliometrics?

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.

Throughout this guide, we use the term indicators instead of metrics. There are very few true 'metrics' of research value; scholarly citations are an indicator - not a measure - of impact and esteem.

Limitations and best uses

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

See the Library's Information for Researchers on Citation analysis and bibliometrics for an overview of the limitations of bibliometric analysis, and the 'best uses' of different types of indicators.

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 TeamThe Library’s Research Support Team provide general guidance for researchers on the use of bibliometric indicators.


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.