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Using Research Indicators

This guide provides information about indicators that can be used as a measure of research performance

Field-Weighted Citation Impact

Field-Weighted Citation Impact is a Snowball Metric.Snowball Metrics symbol

Field-Weighted Citation Impact Snowball Metrics symbol is the ratio of the citations received by an entity's outputs and the average number of citations received by all other similar outputs. An entity can be an institution, a research group or an individual researcher.

The Field-Weighted Citation Impact enables a publication (or set of publications) to be compared with the global average citations received by similar publications* in the same year and field of research. This metric is useful for benchmarking entities regardless of differences in number of publication outputs, disciplinary profile, age, and publication-type composition e.g. to:

  • Easily understand the prestige of an entity’s citation performance by observing the extent to which its Field-Weighted Citation Impact is above or below the world average (i.e. 1.00).
  • Present citation data in a way that inherently takes into account the lower number of citations received by relatively recent publications, thus avoiding the dip in recent years seen with Citation Count and Citations per Output.
  • Gain insight into the relative citation performance of an entity in a discipline with relatively poor database coverage, since gaps in the database will apply equally to the entity’s publications and to the set of similar publications*.

Field-Weighted Citation Impact is a field-normalised metric i.e. it takes the differences in research behaviour across disciplines into account and so can be used to combine different fields for analysis, or make comparisons between fields. As an example, researchers working in medicine and biochemistry typically produce more publications, with more co-authors and longer reference lists, than researchers working in fields such as mathematics and education. This is a reflection of research culture, and not performance.

Field-Weighted Citation Impact is one of the metrics used in the  JCU Research Performance Model. This metric is also used in Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) and various global rankings.

A Field-Weighted Citation Impact of:

  • Exactly 1.00 is equal to the world average, indicating that the output (or set of outputs) has performed just as expected for the global average.
  • More than 1.00 means that the output is more cited than expected according to the global average e.g. 1.48 means 48% more cited than expected.
  • Less than 1.00 means that the output is cited less than expected according to the global average e.g. 0.91 means 9% less cited than expected.

The citations received in the year in which an item was published, and the following 3 years, are counted for this metric.

Field-Weighted Citation Impact will vary for the same research entity in different database sources. Comparisons should therefore only be made from a single source. See appropriate use of publication and citation metrics.

Recommended sources for calculating Field-Weighted Citation Impact are listed below.

* In Scopus and SciVal, similar publications are  publications that have the same publication year, publication type, and discipline in the Scopus journal classification system.

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