Key Indicators Glossary

This glossary of key indicators provides an overview of a wide range of commonly used indicators and their appropriateness for papers, journals and people. Indicators can be used to help you:

  • Decide where to publish
  • Enhance your online profile
  • Support promotion
  • Apply and report to funders
  • Benchmark your research performance

The Golden Rule of Indicators

Note however that any use of indicators should follow these two golden rules:

Golden Rule 1 – Always use quantitative metric-based input alongside qualitative opinion-based input.

Golden Rule 2 – Ensure that the quantitative, metrics part of your input always relies on at least 2 metrics to prevent bias and encouragement of undesirable behavior.

A number of the key indicators which can be used are listed below. For more indicators and their use check out this Glossary of Key Indicators [PDF].

Citation count

Citation count is the number of citations received since the publication of a paper. This is the simplest measure of attention for a particular article, journal or researcher. Citation counts can be found in Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar. These counts will vary because of the coverage of these different services.

Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI)

FWCI is a Scopus/SciVal indicator and is calculated by the number of citations received by a document divided by the expected number of citations for similar documents.

Similar documents are ones in the same discipline, of the same type (e.g., article, letter, review) and of the same age. An FWCI of 1 means that the output performs just as expected against the global average. More than 1 means that the output is more cited than expected according to the global average; for example, 1.48 means 48% more cited than expected.

FWCI is used as a metric in the University’s Research Output KPI


H-index is the 
number of articles in the collection (h) that have received at least (h) citations over the whole period. For example, an h-index of 8 means that 8 of the collection’s articles have each received at least 8 citations. h-index is not skewed by a single highly cited paper, nor by a large number of poorly cited documents. This flexible measure can be applied to any collection of citable documents. Related h-type indices emphasize other factors, such as newness or citing outputs’ own citation counts.

Journal Impact Factor

Journal Impact factor is calculated by the division of the number of citations in a year to documents published in the previous two years by the number of citable items in the previous 2 years. This is based on Web of Science, data and is updated once year.

Outputs in Top Percentiles

Outputs in top percentiles is the extent to which a research entity’s documents are present in the most cited percentiles of a data universe. Found within SciVal, Outputs in Top Percentiles can be field weighted. It indicates how many articles are in the top 1%, 5%, 10% or 25% of the most cited documents. They are a quick way to benchmark groups of researchers.