NIH Scientists Publish New Metric to Measure the Influence of Scientific Research

Currently, measures to describe the scientiific impact of an article, its bibliometrics, are usually based on the journal in which it was published. Individual articles and researcher performance are evaluated based on the assumption that all articles published in high impact journals are uniformly of high impact, and that high impact science is not published in lower impact factor journals. 

Scientists with the Office of Portfolio Analysis (OPA), Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), part of the National Institutes of Health have proposed a new metric, known as the Relative Citation Ratio (RCR). This metric should allow researchers to measure the influence of a scientific article. It doesn't  replace expert review but it overcomes many of the issues faced by previous metrics. The rational behind the new metric is published in PLOS Biology on Sept. 6, 2016.

To address some issues with the current system RCR uses a co-citation network that is formed from the reference lists of papers that cite the article in question, defining a unique field for each article. In addition, RCR is benchmarked to a peer comparison group to determine the relative influence of an article, assuming citations are a measure of influence, and to allow comparisons between similar types of articles, or output from similar institutions.

iCite, a free, easy to use web tool, has offered to calculate RCR values for user-selected articles listed in PubMed.