Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New citation indicators needed to measure research performance

How do you compare the impact of a researcher in chemistry or physics with a molecular biologist who may be working on similar projects?
In an article published today in EMBO reports two experts support the use of citation indicators that are based on percentiles, a statistical parameter that allows for comparisons with a carefully defined group of reference data. Journal impact factors and h-index alone do not make the grade.

“We argue that new citation impact indicators are needed and that these indicators should allow the comparison of the observed impact for a given publication set with a reference set of similar publications,” said Lutz Bornmann, a sociologist of science at the Division for Science and Innovation Studies at the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany. “This is a better way to make meaningful assessments of scientific work.” He added: “Indicators must also take into account that the distribution of citations across papers is often skewed. The use of percentiles described in our paper provides a solution.”

A scientific paper and its citation in other papers reveal how science makes progress and can help to establish the credit for new discoveries. Citation indicators are used extensively to evaluate the impact of the research of individual scientists, institutes and university departments, and sometimes even countries. The outcomes of such analyses can have a profound influence on the careers of scientists or, for example, the future funding of research institutes.

The authors of the study emphasize that journal impact factors and h-index, two frequently used parameters to evaluate the quality and quantity of science, do not readily allow for comparisons between the work of different scientists or publications in journals from unrelated research fields. The problem is similar to comparing the performance of individuals who score goals in sports as different as football and handball. The number of goals in football is often around 2 but in handball can reach 20 or more. Is someone who scores an average of five goals in handball a better athlete than a football player who scores one goal a game?

“Experts of bibliometrics avoid using journal impact factors and the h-index because these indicators do not provide normalized values. For many years, they have been using reference sets to normalize the number of citations which is indispensable for fair assessment,” commented Werner Marx, co-author of the paper and head of the Information Retrieval Services at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. “The use of this type of advanced analysis is growing. However, we have an opportunity to do more and this could have a big impact on the way we answer important questions such as how good research really is.”

How good is research really? Measuring the citation impact of publications with percentiles increases correct assessments and fair comparisons

Lutz Bornmann, Werner Marx

Read the paper:

doi: 10.1038/embor.2013.9
Further information on EMBO reports is available at

Media Contacts
Barry Whyte
Head | Public Relations and Communications

Yvonne Kaul
Communications Offer
Tel: +49 6221 8891 108/111

About EMBO
EMBO is an organization of more than 1500 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a European research environment where scientists can achieve their best work.

EMBO helps young scientists to advance their research, promote their international reputations and ensure their mobility. Courses, workshops, conferences and scientific journals disseminate the latest research and offer training in techniques to maintain high standards of excellence in research practice. EMBO helps to shape science and research policy by seeking input and feedback from our community and by following closely the trends in science in Europe.

Yvonne Kaul | EMBO
Further information:

Further reports about: EMBO life science research performance

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>