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Demonstrate Your Research Impact

This guide provides resources and services to assist the MSU community as it discusses the impact of their work.

In this Guide

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Demonstrating the far-reaching influence of one's scholarly endeavors and outputs is a delicate art form that requires a nuanced approach. There exists a multitude of intricate methods to gauge the resonance of your work, each offering a unique perspective and shedding light on a different facet of its impact. Quantitative metrics, such as citation counts and impact measures, provide a numerical snapshot of your work's dissemination and influence within the academic community. Conversely, qualitative evidence, gleaned from altmetrics tools and social media engagement, offers a window into the broader societal impact and public discourse surrounding your research. In our era of ubiquitous digital connectivity, these qualitative measures have emerged as powerful tools, capturing the reverberations of your scholarship across diverse audiences and platforms. This guide aims to equip you with instructional insights and curated resources to navigate both the quantitative and qualitative realms, empowering you to craft a comprehensive narrative that showcases the true breadth and depth of your scholarly impact.

Please use the tabs across the top of the page or the links below to navigate the guide. 

  • Journal Rankings & Citations - Learn about different measurements, and links to resources providing that data.Journal rankings and citation metrics have become increasingly influential in academia, serving as proxies for research quality and impact. Journals are often ranked based on metrics like the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), which measures the average number of citations received by articles published in that journal over a certain period. This ranking system has led to a hierarchical stratification of journals, with those boasting higher impact factors being perceived as more prestigious.
  • Citation counts, on the other hand, are used to gauge the influence of individual articles or authors. Highly cited papers are generally considered to have made a significant contribution to their field, although citation patterns can be influenced by various factors, including self-citations, field-specific citation norms, and the Matthew effect, where highly cited works tend to attract even more citations. While useful as a rough measure of impact, over-reliance on citation metrics has been criticized for promoting a narrow, quantitative view of scholarly value and potentially incentivizing unethical practices like citation gaming or salami-slicing research into multiple publications.

  • Social Media & Altmetrics - Learn about qualitative measures, and links to resources providing that data.

    Social media and altmetrics (alternative metrics) have emerged as complementary tools to traditional citation-based metrics in assessing the broader impact and dissemination of research. Altmetrics track and analyze online activity related to scholarly outputs, such as mentions on social media platforms, news outlets, blogs, and reference managers. These metrics provide insights into the attention and engagement that research receives from diverse audiences, including researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and the general public.

    The rise of altmetrics is driven by the increasing emphasis on demonstrating the societal relevance and public engagement of research, as well as the recognition that traditional citation-based metrics may not fully capture the diverse pathways through which research can influence different stakeholders. However, altmetrics are not without their own limitations and challenges, including the potential for gaming or manipulation, the lack of standardization across platforms, and the difficulty in interpreting the meaning and significance of online attention. As such, altmetrics are often positioned as supplementary indicators to be used in conjunction with other evaluation methods, rather than as standalone measures of research quality or impact.

  • Commmunity-Engaged Research - Learn about considerations for demonstrating impact from community-engaged scholarship and projects.

    Community-engaged research emphasizes demonstrating impact beyond traditional academic metrics. Key considerations include Tangible community outcomes, such as improved well-being, empowerment, or policy changes. Quality of collaborations and equitable involvement of community partners throughout the research process. Reach and uptake of findings through diverse dissemination channels tailored to community audiences.  Mutual benefits and capacity building for both community and academic partners.  Sustainability of partnerships, interventions, and long-term community development impacts. Evaluation often involves qualitative methods like community testimonials, participatory processes, and longitudinal tracking of outcomes. Measures of impact should be co-developed with community partners to align with their priorities. Capturing this multi-faceted impact requires diverse assessment approaches beyond conventional metrics.

  • Where to Publish? - Learn considerations for choosing where to publish your work.

    When deciding where to publish your work, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:  Journal reputation and impact factor are often key factors, as publishing in high-impact, prestigious journals can enhance the visibility and perceived quality of your research. However, it's also crucial to consider the specific audience and scope of each journal to ensure that your work aligns with its aims and reaches the most relevant readership.  Open access publishing has gained significant traction in recent years, allowing for wider dissemination and accessibility of research findings. Choosing an open access journal or negotiating open access options with traditional publishers can increase the potential impact and reach of your work. In addition to traditional journals, researchers should also explore alternative publishing venues, such as preprint servers, institutional repositories, or discipline-specific online platforms. These outlets can facilitate rapid dissemination, foster collaboration, and provide opportunities for early feedback before formal publication.  Authorship guidelines, peer review processes, and publication timelines are other practical factors to consider, as they can vary significantly across journals and affect the overall publishing experience.  Ultimately, the decision of where to publish should balance considerations of reach, impact, accessibility, and alignment with your research goals and the norms of your specific field or discipline.

  • Manage Your Identity - Learn about tools to manage your researcher identity

    Managing your researcher identity has become increasingly important in today's academic landscape. Here are some tools and strategies to consider:

  • ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID): ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers and ensures your work is properly attributed. Integrating your ORCID with publication databases, grant applications, and institutional systems can help maintain a comprehensive record of your scholarly outputs.
  • Google Scholar Profile: Creating and maintaining a Google Scholar profile allows you to track citations to your work, compute citation metrics, and manage how your publications are displayed in Google Scholar search results.
  • Research Networking Platforms: Sites like ResearchGate,, and LinkedIn allow you to create professional profiles, share your work, connect with colleagues, and showcase your expertise to a broader audience.
  • Institutional Repositories: Many universities and research organizations have institutional repositories where you can deposit your publications, increasing their visibility and ensuring long-term preservation.
  • Personal Websites or Blogs: Developing a personal website or blog can serve as a central hub for showcasing your research interests, publications, teaching activities, and other professional accomplishments.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and ResearchGate can be valuable for sharing your work, engaging in scholarly discussions, and building professional networks.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Justin Matejka