The main points to remember when conducting bibliometric analyses are:

1.  Always compare like with like, for example: 

  • groups and individuals in the same or similar disciplines
  • groups and individuals at the same stage in their academic careers
  • journals in the same discipline or category
  • similar size institutions

2. Don’t rely on one single tool - remember results can vary depending on the tool used.

3. Be aware that some disciplines rely less on publishing in journals than others and therefore will fare badly when conducting bibliometric analyses using some of the main tools available.

4. Use a combination of metrics and other qualitative information where appropriate.

Publication and data analysis - the ten commandments
  • Consider whether available data can address the question.
  • Choose publication types, field definitions, and years of data. 
  • Decide on whole or fractional counting. 
  • Judge whether data require editing to remove “artifacts”. 
  • Compare like with like. 
  • Use relative measures, not just absolute counts. 
  • Obtain multiple measures. 
  • Recognize the skewed nature of citation data. 
  • Confirm that the data collected are relevant to the question.
  • Ask whether the results are reasonable.

And, above all, present the results openly and honestly. 

Thomson Reuters produced a white paper in 2008 called ‘Using Bibliometrics in Evaluating Research’ where they highlight some of the issues associated with bibliometric analyses. The paper includes a very useful section called ‘the 10 commandments of publication and citation analysis’.

If you have any questions relating to the content of this tutorial, or you would like to meet with a Librarian to discuss your own specific needs in this area, please contact your Librarian.

Creative Commons License

My RI by University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, The National University of Ireland, Maynooth and the NDLR adapted by Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at