May 18, 2022

A New White Paper From Sage Publishing: “The Latest Thinking About Metrics for Research Impact in the Social Sciences”

From SAGE Publishing:

While measurement of science impact has traditionally been synonymous with citation counts in academic journals, such counts fail to capture the influence that research can have on policy, practice, and the public. While the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) are uniquely positioned to make this impact and thus benefit society, their true impact is often ignored or overlooked. As a result, sustained attention is needed to help bring attention to SBS’ value.

new report out today establishes imperatives and recommended actions to improve the measurement of SBS impact.

The report summarizes key points from a workshop SAGE convened in February with world-leading experts on research impact. Participants represented the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Altmetric, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, Clarivate Analytics, Google, New York University, SAGE, School Dash, SciTech Strategies, the Social Science Research Council, and the University of Washington.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  1. The full scholarly community must believe that new impact metrics are useful, necessary, and beneficial to society.
  2. A robust new regime of impact measurement must transcend, but not necessarily supplant, current literature-based systems.
  3. A new regime of social science impact measures must integrate the experiences and expectations of how nonacademic stakeholders will define impact.
  4. All stakeholders must understand that although social science impact is measurable, social science is not STEM, and social science’s impact measurements may echo STEM’s but are unlikely to mirror them.
  5. Social science needs a global vocabulary, a global taxonomy, global metadata, and finally a global set of benchmarks for talking about impact measurement.

The report also maps out stakeholder categories, defines key terms and questions, puts forward four models for assessing impact, proposes next steps, and presents a list of 45 resources and data sources that could help in creating a model of SBS impact.


SAGE is hosting events to share progress and crowdsource ideas kicking off with a May event in Washington, DC and a June event in Vancouver, Canada.

Learn More, Read the Complete News Release

Register to Access Full Text Report (Free)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.