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University of York Library
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.


metrics iconThe 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) 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

Contact the Open Research team (pictured) for help with accessing and analysing bibliometric data about publications and authors.

Members of the Open Research team

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 researchers and staff

The Open Research team offer training to postgraduate researchers and staff through the Research Excellence Training (RET) programme.

To book a session go to: SkillsForge - Postgraduate Researchers or LMS - Staff (login required)


Autumn Term sessions


You can also contact the team by email lib-open-research@york.ac.uk to:

  • ask a question
  • request training for your department, research group, staff and/or postgraduate researchers

Alternatively, book an Open Research Online Appointment to discuss your individual needs.