REF and bibliometrics

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) will inform research funding allocations by the four UK HE funding bodies. Bibliometrics such as citation counts, journal impact factors, and h indexes will not be used directly, but they may feed into the assessment process for some units of assessment.


Citation counts

InCites database 



Brunel’s performance in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) performance heralded our arrival as a research-intensive university, and a university of international standing. Now the University is looking towards the 2014 REF, the RAE’s successor. What do we know about the REF?

  • It will be a single system across all disciplines
  • There will be 20 units of assessment (fewer than in the RAE, when there were 24)
  • It will generate profiles, like the RAE
  • It will determine quality-related research (QR) income
  • Whereas the RAE was based on outputs, environment and esteem, the REF will be based on outputs, environment and impact
  • Weightings will be: outputs (60%), impact (25%) and environment (15%)
  • There will be a maximum of four outputs per researcher
  • The evaluation of outputs will be done by peer review, with limited use of citation data in some units of assessment
  • Outputs must have been published after 1 January 2008 and before 31 December 2013

Some key events in the REF timetable are:

After the bibliometric pilot exercise, it was concluded that citations were insufficiently robust to be used in a formulaic way or to replace peer review. Instead it was decided that the evaluation of outputs may be “informed by” bibliometrics, i.e. somebody could consider an item’s citations and form a judgement in some units of assessment. The contract for citation data provision in the 2014 REF has been awarded to Elsevier.

More information about the REF

Citation counts

You can find citation counts for individual journal articles using the three multidisciplinary databases: Web of Knowledge, Scopus and GoogleScholar.

Using Web of Knowledge:

  1. Open Web of Knowledge
  2. Search for the article by title or DOI (if available)
  3. See the citation count towards the bottom of the entry

Using Scopus

  1. Open Scopus
  2. Search for the article by title or DOI (if available)
  3. See the citation count to the far right of the entry

Using GoogleScholar:

  1. Open GoogleScholar
  2. Search for the article using by title or DOI (if available)
  3. See the citation count beneath the entry (if the citation count is missing, it means there are no citations)

These three databases don’t always give the same citation count for a given article, because they cover different data. Usually but not always GoogleScholar will give the highest number. If you are comparing citation counts for different articles, you should use the same database.

InCites database

The InCites database provides access to bibliometric reports based on Brunel publications indexed in the Web of Science. This data can be used in a variety of different ways, for example:

  • To compare quantitative aspects of performance against other institutions and world and field benchmarks
  • To identify influential and emerging researchers and research trends
  • To showcase strengths and identify potential areas for growth
  • To monitor collaboration activity and identify new collaboration opportunities
  • To support accreditation activity, funding proposals, legislative agendas, alumni appeals, faculty and student recruitment

Various members of staff have been set up with personal accounts. All other staff and students: to access this e-resource you will require a unique username and password. Note if you are already registered for related Thomson Reuters products such as Web of Knowledge™, ResearcherID, or EndNote® then your username and password will work for InCites, too.

Page last updated: Tuesday 05 August 2014