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Research Impact and Author Profiles

Research Impact

What is Research Impact?

"Research impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. Impact embraces all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individual, organisations and nations..." (Research Councils UK)

"Research impact refers to the influence scholarly and creative enquiry has upon wider society, intended as well as unintended, immediate as well as protracted. It includes the influence such research has upon future researchers within the discipline as well as in other disciplines and on public policy, quality of life, social cohesion, business innovation, the environment, artistic and creative practices, commercial and economic activity, administrative and institutional development, and political and cultural understanding" (Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2014)

Simply stated, "research impact" is how your research affects the world around you. This guide will provide a basic overview of tools you can use to understand your personal, departmental, or research group's impact, and tools you can use to manage your impact.

Measuring Research Impact

The activity of measuring and describing the impact of academic research is becoming increasingly important in Canada and around the world. Providing an indication of the quality of your research in grant funding or career development applications is now a standard activity, and can highlight why you are a worthy recipient of such awards.

Measures of Research Impact

Research impact measurement is often described using quantitative methods such as citation counts, journal impact factors and using researcher specific metrics such as the h-index; you may hear this type of measurement referred to as 'bibliometrics'.

However, impact can also be described qualitatively in terms of social and cultural applications and measures of esteem.

Different subject areas will focus on different measures to describe research impact. Traditionally, Science and Medical areas rely much more heavily on quantitative measures than the Arts and Humanities. The focus on different measures may also change depending on the purpose for measuring research impact.

The University of Waterloo Working Group on Bibliometrics has developed a white paper outlining recommended practices for using bibliometrics to assess research output.

The Becker Medical Library Model for Assessment of Research Impact is a framework for tracking diffusion of research. 

Research Profiles

Set up at least one researcher profile in order to:

  • Distinguish yourself from similarly named authors
  • Better track your citations
  • Manage your publications list

For more information please see the page on Researcher profiles.


Thank you to the University Library,The University of Western Australia, for allowing us to use and adapt content from their guide:

Many thanks to Jenny Jun, Library and Information Technician student at Seneca College, for her work on this guide.

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