There are metrics on the quality of universities (e.g., rankings) and individual researchers (e.g., Google Scholar), but I found it harder to judge the performance and impact of individual research groups. The ranking of the university, departments and the profiles of the leading researchers are usually clear indicators for the entire group.

Are there any other good metrics, indicators or properties that indicate the impact and performance of a research group?

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    How are you defining quality? The quality of a university is often operationalised quite differently from the quality of an individual researcher (e.g. research impact, staff levels, student experience, employment prospects for graduates vs. bibliometrics)
    – Ian_Fin
    Aug 10, 2016 at 9:52
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    I'm not sure, I guess that is part of the questions.
    – dsfgsho
    Aug 10, 2016 at 9:53
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    You may want to edit the question to include that, although "what makes a research group high quality" seems like it could run foul of the SE rule about avoiding largely opinion based questions.
    – Ian_Fin
    Aug 10, 2016 at 9:57
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    What about a meta-H-index: the largest number k so that there are at least k researchers with H-index at least k in the group. As the poet said, "I heard you like H-indices, so I used your H-indices to make a new H-index". Aug 10, 2016 at 9:58
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    If this is for your career, I'm not sure how useful it is. There are obvious benefits to affiliating yourself with a high quality institution or high quality individual researchers, but does average group quality really matter much beyond that? Also "research group" is a relatively amorphous concept, and what you measure might be simply based on how the groups have been arbitrarily defined.
    – user24098
    Aug 10, 2016 at 10:11

2 Answers 2


Have you tried looking at the rate of citations for the individual researchers' publications? Go onto Google Scholar and see how many people cite the papers that are published by individuals from the group. You could also contact people within that field to ask them about the reputation of the group.


There are certainly many factors involved, and sticking to any one of them could be a wrong choice. I would suggest taking into account all the following while also being cautious about the side of that metric.

Google Scholar tells you all you need, but its details must be examined.

Citations A large number of citations shows that the research work is well-recognized in the field. But also, ask if citations across the paper are uniform.

  • Many times, the citation is high due to one or two papers (often old).
  • There is also the possibility that the research group is working in a very narrow field (or perhaps the field is not well developed) in which not many people are working, which could also lead to low citations.
  • Some research leaders collaborate a lot, so it's important to consider papers from their group specifically.

h-index A good h-index shows that the works are well cited(as its definition suggests). However, there are people who have a lot of self-citation, which could also lead to a high h-index. The other limitation of citations also goes into the h-index, which is derived from citations.

Additionally, check which journal papers are published. This is particularly important for the work that is not well recognized.

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