SciVal – 2. How SciVal can help you in the battle for research funding

By: Ellen Fest · 17 October 2017
Category: Impact

In modern academia, there’s a great deal of competition for research funding. NWO accepts only a quarter of the proposals and for their major research programmes (Basic Research and Talent) this is even lower. For the EU Horizon 2020 program, the figures look even less promising. Only 14% of the proposals in the first 100 calls were accepted. To help our staff improve their grant proposals, WUR Library provides access to SciVal. In this blog post, I explain how you can use SciVal to demonstrate your research impact and focus.

SciVal is an online bibliometric tool based on the Scopus database, focused on research performance. Read more about SciVal in my introductory blog.


How you can use SciVal in grant applications?

Show impact within a Research Area

Imagine you are writing a grant application on a specific topic. Using SciVal , you could demonstrate your research performance on this topic or in its wider research area. There are two ways to do this: 1) Perform a search in Scopus on the topic; or 2) use a pre-set research area based on the Scopus journal classification system. Having done that, you are able to compare the performance of your (or your group’s) research output with that of others in this this research area. At the end of the blog I’ll explain how to create a research area.

Let’s take a look at the research area of Food Sciences. This is a pre-set research area based on the Scopus journal classification system. In the screenshot below, you can see that, as expected, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading institutes in this area, by both output and impact. WUR is ranked 6th, based on the number of publications in the period 2012-2017. And in the top 10, WUR has the highest citation impact, as shown by the Field Weighted Citation Impact1 of 1.92 in the right column (Module Overview → Research Areas → tab Institutions).

As said, besides predefined research areas SciVal also provides the opportunity to create your own research area. This is done by performing a search in the Scopus database. For example, you could create the research area “climate adaptation” by searching for this and related terms in the Scopus database (see the text box at the end of this blogpost how to create and use a Research Area). The whole set of results consists of > 90.000 publications from 2012 onwards. Wageningen University & Research is responsible for about a thousand publications within this set. When we compare WUR output with the total set, WUR’s share in the top 1% and top 10% of most-cited publications is higher than the world average (see screenshot below). More than 30% of our WUR-output on this research topic belongs to the 10% most-cited publications (Module Overview → Research Areas → tab Published (Overall)).

You can also show the top 10 contributing institutions in a research area, by number of publications. You could restrict your metrics to e.g. Europe to indicate which European institutions focus on this area most. Adding the Field Weighted Citation Score also shows what impact the works of these institutions have. As can be seen in the screenshot, Wageningen University & Research is the second-largest institution in Europe on this topic. The citation impact on this topic is quite high for all 10 institutions. Nevertheless, WUR belongs to the highest scoring institutions on this list.

Show the impact of a project-team

You can also approach it from a different angle and show the impact of the project team (on a specific topic). Based on Scopus author identifiers, you are able to create a group of researchers in SciVal. (A good reason to regularly check your Scopus Author Profile!). Find out how the create a group of researchers in SciVal at the end (2nd textbox) of this blogpost.

To show how you can use a group of researchers in SciVal, I created an example project team consisting of 6 researchers. This hypothetical group works in the area of plant sciences and wants to show its excellence. In SciVal, you can easily create a table in which the most important bibliometric indicators are summarized per team member (Module Overview → Researcher and Groups → tab Researchers). An example of such a table is given below; created with one push on the button. For privacy reasons the names of the researchers are blurred.

Another way of showing the excellence of your project team is presenting the share of publications that belong to the top 10% and 1% most-cited publications, as is shown in the screenshot below. In this case, almost a quarter of this team’s publications belongs to the 10% most-cited publications (Module Overview → Researchers and Groups → tab Published (Overall)).

A third example of using the output of the project team is showing the citation impact per research area, indicating the strength in a specific field, or, in the case of multidisciplinary fields, in many fields (Module Overview → Researchers and Groups → tab Published (by Subject Area)).

The metrics described above can be useful in building a case in a grant application. You can show clearly why you believe your group deserves to be funded on a specific research topic, or that your institution or collaborative partners are likely to create further impact. Has this blog made you interested in using SciVal for improving your funding application? Contact me for support! You can find my contact details below this post.


1 The ratio of citations received relative to the expected world average for the subject field, publication type and publication year.


This article has been read 2427 times.
Ellen Fest

Ellen Fest

library information specialist | citation analysis | research data management | altmetrics | SciVal |impact of science | bibliographic networks

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *