Faculty Resources

Author Impact Beamplots Defined

A beamplot shows the volume and citation impact of an individual’s publication portfolio through time. Each paper’s citation count is normalized (i.e., benchmarked against other similar publications from the same discipline) and measured as a percentile. It is also not necessarily biased against individuals who have taken a career break or published less at any given time.

Beamplots show the underlying data on a paper-by-paper basis and provide a picture of performance over time. Seeing the data in this way puts a researcher’s publications into a context suitable for comparison and unpacks the citation performance of their publication portfolio.

How Beamplots Work

Each dot on the beamplot represents a publication and its position corresponds to its year of publication and its normalized citation percentile score (0-100). A score of 90 means that paper is among the top 10% most cited publications of the same year, publication type (article or review) and subject area (e.g., applied physics). A score over 50 indicates above average citation performance.

Image of beamplot


  • Beamplots only include publications with the Web of Science document type, Article or Review.
  • Due to low number of citations, current and previous year publications are not included in the beamplot.
  • Citation counts are updated daily (derived from Web of Science Core Collection).
  • Citation percentiles are updated monthly (derived from InCites Benchmarking & Analytics).
    • Each document is compared to their year, category, and document type.



  • Allows you to visualize the performance of a group of papers.
  • Allows you to compare across research disciplines using a field-normalized citation percentiles  (i.e., benchmarked against other publications from the same discipline and time frame).
  • Does not disadvantage those who work in fields with distinctly different publication activity.
  • Shows the change in performance (the volume and citation impact) of an individual's publications throughout time.
  • Each paper's citation count is normalized and measured as a percentile.