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Research Support: Assessment and Research Output

Research support guide for faculty and students.

Overview of Research Measurement

When you conduct and publish scholarly research, you are engaging in scholarly communication. This page provides information and resources that you can use to track, analyze, and understand research impact and outputs. These include policies and procedures for measuring research output, methods for measurement and related tools (bibliometrics, altmetrics, and more), and NRF rating methods.

Basics of Research Output/Measurement

NRF Rating and Evaluation

The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of our researchers against the best in the world. NRF ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers.

Go to the NRF Knowledge Management and Evaluation webpage for more information.

Researchers with NRF rating

Definition of rating categories.

NRF Online Submission System.

Altmetrics - Article Level Metrics

Altmetrics (short for alternative metrics) "is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship." Some altmetrics systems include traditional citation tools as well as media mentions. For example, this is a list of categories of metrics Plum Analytics includes:

1. Usage: Downloads, views, book holdings, ILL, document delivery
2. Captures: Favorites, bookmarks, saves, readers, groups, watchers
3. Mentions: blog posts, news stories, Wikipedia articles, comments, reviews
4. Social media: Tweets, +1's, likes, shares, ratings
5. Citations: PubMed, Scopus, patents


Wits Library Books


Bibliometrics ​offers a set of methods and measures that can be used to assess research impact and patterns in scholarly communication. and read below to learn more.

  • ​Who is it for?: University management, research offices, research groups, department heads, and individual researchers applying for grants.
  • Main uses: Ranking and benchmark data, assessment of individual researchers, and journal rankings.
  • Key Metrics: Journal Impact Factor (JIF) for journal rankings, H-index for individual rankings, and citation statistics (see "Citation Tracking" below).​​​

Citation Tracking: Databases

One of the most traditional and commonly used methods for assessing research impact is citation tracking. Through the application of certain indicators, citation tracking tools can be used to indicate works that are highly regarded, controversial, and/or interconnected.

Different databases (listed below) offer the opportunities to search by number of citations, investigate patterns, create graphs and maps, and search within citations and to examine journal rankings.

Tracking Book Citations

Use the following tools to track book citations, such frequency of citation, cited by whom, etc.

Institutional Role in Research

Using the InCites database, you can conduct in-depth analysis of your institution's role in research, as well as produce focused snapshots that showcase particular aspects of research performance. You will be prompted to create your personal sign in to access InCites.

InCites allows you to:

  •    Compare research performance against other institutions and world and field benchmarks
  •    Pinpoint influential and emerging researchers and research trends
  •    Showcase strengths and identify potential areas for growth
  •    Set measurable goals; allocate funds accurately and intelligently
  •    Monitor collaboration activity and track new collaboration opportunities
  •    Support accreditation activity, funding proposals, legislative agendas, alumni appeals, faculty and student recruitment
  •    Plan a research strategy with metrics that can be tracked over time.

Other Citation Trackers

ScienceDirect provides the opportunity to see a 'cited by' list. This is accessible by clicking through to individual articles from the search results and can be seen on the right hand side of the screen.

Publish or Perish is a downloadable program that obtains and analysis citation data from Google Scholar.

Essential Science Indicators from Clarivate Analytics provides in-depth analytical tool offering data for ranking scientists, institutions, countries, and journals.