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Creating an NIH Biosketch

A guide to best practices for creating an NIH Biosketch.

Bibliometrics and Alternative Metrics

Bibliometrics and alternative metrics can be an extremely helpful tool to tell the story of your research.

Bibliometrics are the statistical analysis of publications such as articles and books, and is usually focused on citation analysis. It is an attempt to measure the impact or influence of a particular work.
There are many different indicators available for analysis, and these fall under three categories: journal level metrics, like impact factor; article level metrics, like citations; or author level metrics, like h-index.

A compliment to bibliometrics are alternative metrics, also known as altmetrics. It can take years for an article to garner citations and alternative metrics can help you talk about the impact your work is making in the meantime. Altmetrics is data gathered online that examines the volume and nature of attention that a work receives. The outputs for which this type of information can be collected are diverse and can include things like data sets, reports, software, web projects, etc.  Examples of alternative metrics include Twitter mentions, citations in policy documents, or Wikipedia citations, as well as other mass media mentions.

Early Career Metric Ideas

For early career researchers, you may not have had the time to garner a significant number of traditional bibliometrics. However there are notable bibliometrics that can help tell your story, no matter the length of your career.

For example, look at the timing of the citations you have received.  A citation received the same year the output was published indicates swift attention to your work.

You can also look at the journal category quartile of the publication your work can be found in. If it is in the first quartile of the subject category as noted by Journal Citation Reports (JCR), this is an indication that the journal is impactful in that journal category.

Other information to highlight includes whether you are the first or last author of an article, if you have won any awards, or how much of your work is open access. Work that is published in an open access setting typically allows for greater accessibility of the research as it is not behind a paywall.

Sample Metric Statements

Here is some sample text describing various kinds of research outputs. You may decide that your contributions to science speak louder than what any numbers or metrics can capture. These suggestions are meant to provide ideas and options as you consider how to communicate your science to NIH reviewers.

“This project produced 11 non peer-reviewed articles, 2 reports for policy makers, 4 magazine articles, 3 local newspaper articles, 23 presentations to a variety of policy and academic audiences, and 2 book chapters.”

“This project resulted in 10 peer-reviewed articles, 2 national presentations, and 4 international presentations.”

Highlight the impact of one or more outputs
These examples use citation metrics collected from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. If you use citation metrics, it is recommended that you provide the database source in parentheses after the sentence.

“The paper describing this work is listed below and has been cited >300 times (Scopus).”

“Collectively the 4 papers listed below have been cited more than 1,200 times by Scopus (1,100 by WoS).”

Highlight successful dissemination
Statements like this emphasize that the work has been cited by investigators worldwide, indicating successful dissemination and global influence of the work.

"The 21 publications resulting from this work have been cited by 750 subsequent works by investigators in 47 countries, and in 7 languages around the world (Scopus)."

Highlight consumption by stakeholders
Use sources like and PlumX metrics (available from Scopus entries for manuscripts) to find news and media coverage for journal articles.

“There was considerable media coverage of this project, with 10 articles in national newspapers and 6 other media appearances.”

“The 4 papers describing this work were referred to by news media outlets 24 times; tweeted 13 times worldwide, including tweets from the National Cancer Institute; and commented on 8 times in PubMed Commons.”

"Our work has informed and advanced national public policy and continues to guide changes in the nation’s justice systems. Publications have been cited in reports of the Surgeon General, used in amicus briefs to the Supreme Court, presented in congressional hearings, and widely disseminated by federal agencies and advocacy groups."