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Tracking Scholarship in the Arts & Humanities

Explore ways to show the impact of scholarly and creative works in the humanities and arts. Read more about qualitative and quantitative measures of scholarly impact.

Creative Works & Their Impact

Showing the impact of creative works isn't as straightforward as counting citations or using a citation-based metric to measure the impact of a journal article or monograph. However, this doesn't mean that showing the impact of creative works is impossible. Scholars that produce a combination of scholarly and creative works can use a broad range of methods to demonstrate both types of works' overall impact, originality, significance, and influence.

This page of the guide can help you use a combination of methods that work best for your creative work. Not all works can use the same methods, so it's best to check in with colleagues to see what methods they use and then think about which methods will best suit the type of work you produce.

For scholarly works that produce citations and other methods, please check out this guide's Citations & Metrics for the Arts & Humanities page.

Impact in the Visual & Performing Arts

Telling the broader picture of your creative work is what's most important when looking to demonstrate the impact of your work. You can use a combination of methods, including quantitative and qualitative, but providing the context surrounding why your work is essential, significant, or contributes something of value to your field will be the most helpful.

  • Audience/Attendance: If your work is displayed in an exhibition, at an event, at a gallery, etc., then ask the venue or a coordinator to provide audience counts or attendee numbers. Use these numbers to show a broad interest in your work, especially if any demographic information is available (such as age ranges, etc.).
  • Social Media: If you, someone else, or an organization shared your work on social media platforms, then you can use engagement data to show the reach and interactions of the public with your work. Social media sites often have analytical data you can access just for this purpose.
  • Venue: If a prestigious venue accepts your work to be displayed at an exhibition or other event, then this information itself can show the impact and significance of your work, as well as an indicator of your prominence in the field.
  • Sales: If the work that you produce can be sold, such as by producing prints of an original art piece, then sales figures can provide a measurement of impact. Ticket sales to exhibitions or events can also be used as a measure of impact.
  • Reviews: Professional and critic reviews of art pieces can be used as another method of showing that other experts in your particular area of specialty acknowledge and praise your work. This type of qualitative information can be used to help tell the story of how your visual art affects other professionals in the field, the field itself, or even the general public.
  • Surveys and/or interviews: Utilizing this form of feedback is another qualitative indicator that can help demonstrate why your work is significant.

Creating an Impact Narrative

When it comes time to evaluate the impact of your creative works, using a narrative approach will help to provide context to your work. As stated elsewhere in this guide, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative measurements of impact will help show the broader picture of your work so you can tell the story of why it's an important contribution to your field, your department/college, your institution, the general public and/or the world.

Questions to consider:

  • Does your work have cultural [or societal, economic, public policy, etc.] impacts? What can you use to show these impacts?
  • Why does your work matter to you? 
  • Why should your work matter to others?
  • Are there metrics available for your work? If yes, in what ways can you write about those metrics that provide context for their significance? Is there more information you can add from another resource or type of impact (see Impact in the Visual & Performing Arts above)?
  • How do your mentors talk about their creative works?
  • Do your colleagues have examples of their own narratives you could look at for inspiration?

Further Readings:

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