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Citation Tracking & Bibliometrics

The citation searching process and the citation indexes available in the world of scholarly publishing.

Citation Searching & Tracking

A citation search retrieves information about the publications that have cited a specific publication or an author.

To be cited means that your scholarly publication has been cited by another author who refers to your publication within their publication and includes the bibliographic citation in the list of works cited.

People perform citation searches for a variety of reasons. Professors applying for tenure or promotion may need to know how many times their scholarly publications have been cited. Researchers and students may be interested in the impact a particular publication has had in its field. 

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How to Perform a Citation Search

1. Do an author search in both Scopus and Web of Science

When you're performing a citation search, it's best to use several databases to try to ensure you're capturing as much information as possible. Don't settle for the results in just one database. Citation indexes such as Scopus and Web of Science will collect citation data for publications indexed in the database. You can get a total citation count as well as author metrics.

Google Scholar can also provide some useful information. However, as Google Scholar citations are based on the search engine's spiders and not human input, they are subject to errors such as counting duplicate entries and other problems that skew the results.

Students wishing to perform citation searches for a particular author are encouraged to use Scopus and Web of Science rather than Google Scholar.


2. Eliminate self-citations from the author citation count

Don't forget to remove self-citations from the total citations for greater accuracy, which Scopus and Web of Science can do but Google Scholar can't. Find the means to remove self-citations in each database's citation report or overview tool.

If you have questions or want to meet to discuss citation searching further, get in touch with one of your Research Services Librarians:

The Limitations of Metrics

The use of citation data as a measure of a researcher's impact has been shown to be subject to a number of influencing factors, including gender inequality, geographical prominence, racial bias, and the "Matthew effect", in which successful researchers are more likely to gain funding and be cited regardless of the value of their work due to the precedent of their success. We advise that these limitations be kept in mind when using citation data as a marker of researcher value.

Responsible Metrics

The "Responsible Metrics" movement has worked to expand the conversation about researcher assessment beyond quantitative metrics. Two major statements have helped direct this effort: the 2012 San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which has now been signed by individuals and institutions worldwide, and the 2015 Leiden Manifesto, based on a 2014 conference and published in Nature.

Recognizing the Western Bias in Research

The content available in Scopus and Web of Science generally reflects a focus on Western, English-speaking scholarly communication. While efforts are being made to expand coverage to include research from more of the world, it is important to remember when using these tools for research or citation tracking to ask yourself:

What knowledge has been made part of academic agendas?
And what knowledge has not?
Whose knowledge is this?
Who is acknowledged to have the knowledge?
And who is not?

Grada Kilomba (2008), quoted in Thambinathan & Kinsella (2021).

More About Metrics

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