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Research Impact : Telling Your Story

This guide provides guidance on scholarly and research impact for authors and investigators.

Need Help?

Do you need help telling your story? Are you preparing for tenure or completing the NIH Biosketch Contributions to Science sections?  Do you need to provide a report on your publications or include an impact statement in a grant renewal? We can help you or your research group with supplemental information to use for your story.

Contact Cathy Sarli or Amy Suiter for more information.

Examples and Tips

1. Go beyond the numbers and provide contextual information.

Example for Tenure/Promotion:

Since 2002, I have published 48 peer-reviewed works with 92 unique co-authors representing 86 institutions including two group/corporate authors from eight countries. I am first author on 21 works and sole author of five works. The works have been published in nearly 28 unique journals representing 15 research areas such as hematology, pathology, emergency medicine, cardiovascular cardiology, toxicology, etc. As of 2008, over 18 different funding agencies are noted in the acknowledgement sections of my works. To date, my works have been cited over 1,000 times by 698 works by authors from 18 countries and five languages. Each one of my works has at least five citations.

Examples for Justification of Grant Renewal Funding:

Since my grant was funded three years ago, I published three peer-reviewed works reporting on preliminary findings in the past two years. The three works have been cited a total of 32 times by subsequent works with a second generation citation count of 15 works from author affiliations representing six countries and three languages. In addition, one of my journal articles was reviewed by six Faculty1000 Prime reviewers as Recommended Readings and assigned the following categories:  “Technical Advance,” “New Finding,” and “Interesting Hypothesis.”

Example for Demonstrating Public Engagement of Your Publications:

Dr. ABC’s most highly cited work (Medicine, 2010) has been cited 344 times, viewed 8,000 times by online readers with 6,200 full text downloads.  In addition, the work has been referred to by news media outlets 24 times; tweeted by 13 tweeters, world-wide; saved in 28 Mendeley accounts; and commented upon in eight different blogs and in PubMed Commons. Dr. ABC’s YouTube podcast discussing the findings of the article has been viewed 1,200 times by viewers from over 70 different countries.

Example for Demonstrating Qualification to Undertake Research for a Grant Proposal:

The publications most relevant to the proposal fall under Research Area A (based on article-level subject topic) in the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database. Over the past five years, ABC publications (all types and all languages) were indexed by Web of Science. Of the ABC publications, only X pertain to Research Area A. Of these X publications (X articles, X reviews, and X proceedings paper), X are authored by me. Clearly, there is a gap in the literature per Research Area A, with me being among the most qualified investigators to research and report further on Research Area A. Only X number of authors share the same number of publications, all of whom are my co-authors from different institutions.

Example for Demonstrating Collaboration:

Since 2008, I have published 24 peer-reviewed works with 82 unique co-authors representing 70 institutions (academic and industry affiliations) from ten countries such as Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, and others. My co-authors are investigators from the fields of neurology, otolaryngology, radiology, pediatrics and genetics.

Example for Demonstrating National and International Impact of Citing Publications:

Per Washington University School of Medicine Appointments & Promotions Guidelines and Requirements, promotions are based in part on demonstrating national and international impact of publications. One way to demonstrate national and international impact is to analyze the citations to publications to determine the affiliations of the citing authors. Elsevier Scopus and Clarivate Analytics Web of Science offer tools to capture affiliation information of citing authors. This information can be be visualized using a Choropleth map. If you need a Choropleth map, please contact Cathy Sarli.

[Source: The Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study and Its Impact] 

Example for Demonstrating Impact of Citing Publications:

27 of my 35 publications have citation benchmarking data in Elsevier Scopus (this information is not generally available for works published prior to 2008 or newly published works). Of the 27 publications with citation benchmarking data, all 27 have a Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) of 1.0 or higher in Scopus which means that the number of citations based on the average of the subject field for the works exceed the global average. A FWCI of more than 1 means that the output is more cited than expected according to the global average; for example, 1.48 means 48% more cited than expected. The average FWCI for the 27 publications is 23.7; the median is 6.42. 20 publications rank in the 90th percentile or higher, with seven of these publications ranking in the 99th percentile, representing the top 1% globally by similar publications published globally in the subject area/field of XYZ. One recently published work has no citations but has garnered significant social attention. The work has received 703 mentions in platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and two mentions in mass media sources.

2. Take advantage of tools offered by resources. Elsevier Scopus allows for generation of graphs.


Clarivate Analytics Web of Science provides charts for publications and citations. The trend graph can also be generated for authors.


3. Utilize applications that allow for capturing of activity or usage for an individual work, "alternative metrics." Authors can add the Altmetric boomarklet to their browser toolbar to obtain alternative metrics for articles.

Elsevier Scopus also provides supplemental usage information for individual publications.

See the Article Metrics tabs for other examples of applications.

Also of interest: A Guide to Using Altmetric Data in Your NIH Biosketch CV


CAVEAT: As with any metric, alternative metrics should be used with caution and not used a sole measure for determining performance or impact.

How to Tell a Story

  • Tailor your story for the intended purpose and audience.
  • Think of your stories as a descriptive narrative of your research efforts and accomplishments.
  • If using publication and citation data, use information from databases for descriptive content.
  • If applicable, use a variety of article level metrics to supplement your publication data.
  • Use Plain LanguagePlain language is clear, concise, organized, and appropriate for the intended audience.


How to Use Becker List of Indicators for Impact Stories

Telling Impact Stories: Video from Cushing/Hay Medical Library at Yale University.