How to Understand Research Metrics

The world of research has many different metrics that can be useful in measuring and comparing candidates for science, technical, or research job vacancies.

Here’s a breakdown of what each means.

When you’re looking at candidates for a job, there are some obvious metrics to consider: level of education, years of experience, and skill-level.

For candidates with a research background, there are a few more metrics that you can use to inform your decision.

It is important for you to understand these, whether you’re hiring for a science job, a research job, or a technical or R&D vacancy at your company or in your department.

ResearchGate Scientific Recruiting supplies a selection of these metrics for candidates, making it easier to make your hiring decision. Schedule a demo today.

Can’t tell h-index from Impact Factor? Below is a breakdown of exactly what these metrics are, what they mean, and how to interpret them.


The number of publications is the most basic, but perhaps the most important metric—all other metrics are in some way informed by publications. A researcher with a high number of publications is likely to be experienced, whereas a researcher with fewer might be in the early stages of their career.


Citations are the number of times a researcher’s publications have been referred to in research by their peers. This is a good indication of how well known a researcher is in their field, as it shows how many people have referred to their work in their own research.

This doesn’t necessarily indicate the quality of their research, but can give you an idea of how well-known they are.

Impact Factor (IF)

Impact factor measures the reputation of an academic journal. It measures the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal in the previous two years. It can be useful in comparing journals from similar fields, and for evaluating the journals in which a particular researcher has published articles.


Reads is a simple metric that shows exactly how often a researcher’s work is accessed on ResearchGate. A read is counted when somebody reads the full-text or summary of any type of research, or downloads a file. The higher the number of reads, the more popular a piece of research is.

RG Score

The RG Score measures scientific reputation based on how all of a researcher’s work is received by their peers. The score is based on both published research and contributions to ResearchGate.

A contribution is anything a researcher shares on ResearchGate or adds to their profile, from published papers and questions and answers, to negative results and raw data. The RG score algorithm looks at how other researchers receive and evaluate contributions and who these researchers are.

This means that the higher the scores of those who interact with a researcher’s work are, the more that researcher’s score will increase.

In contrast to more traditional metrics, the RG Score focuses on the community, and puts reputation back into the hands of researchers.

RG Reach

RG Reach is a way to gauge the level of exposure a researcher’s work is receiving on ResearchGate. It combines connections and wider reach metrics, and shows you how much of an impact the researcher is having on the platform.


h-index looks at the number of highly impactful publications a researcher has published. The higher the number of cited publications, the higher the h-index—regardless of which journal the work was published in.

ResearchGate Scientific Recruiting

When you post your science, technical, or research job on ResearchGate, you’ll receive a list of applicants with many of these metrics supplied.

This means you can sort by both experience and research reputation, and apply quantitative data to make your hiring process easier.

For more information about how to use ResearchGate to find candidates and make hiring for your science, technical, or research job more efficient, schedule a demo now.


Header photo courtesy of Anders Sanberg.

ResearchGate Scientific Recruiting

Schedule a demo today