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Citation Searching

Counting Citations

Scholars and scientists often want to know what impact they are having on their field of study.  The most traditional way of quantifying this is to determine how many times one's publications have been cited in the literature.  Citation indexes make this fairly easy to do, but to ensure accuracy it has to be done correctly and consistently. 

The h-index

The h-index is a measure of "citedness" as a surrogate for productivity and impact. It is the number of articles h in a group of publications N that have received h or more citations. For example, an h-index of 20 means that there are 20 items in the selected group N that have received 20 or more citations. It is like a median, and useful because it discounts the disproportionate weight of highly cited and uncited papers that would skew a mean. However, the h-index will vary considerably depending on a person's number of credited publications and the length of time they've been active: older and more prolific authors will usually have higher h-indexes than younger or less prolific authors. If you want to compare your h-index to someone else's, you need to use the same methodology to calculate them and then normalize the values by dividing them by a second factor, e.g. years since PhD. The standard caveats apply when using h-indexes in personnel and funding decisions.

Web of Science - General Search

This method is easiest and works fine for most purposes. Its drawbacks include:

  • It excludes articles that are not in WOS-covered source journals (such as conference papers, book chapters, patents, etc.).
  • It may be difficult to distinguish among authors with the same surname/initial(s), so it may include stray hits.
  • It relies on the articles' derived "Times Cited" values that may undercount your total actual citations.

Here's how you do it.

  1. Connect to Web of Science (and make sure you're searching the "Core Collection").
  2. Open the More Settings menu in the lower part of the window, and select the database segments most aligned with your area of study.WOS author search form
  3. Select Author Search from the top menu line (not from the field selector pull-down menu).  This will open a multi-step sequence where you'll enter name, discipline, and institution information.  Type your last name and initial(s) in the search boxes. If you always use a middle initial on your papers, include it as well. If you've published under different surnames, you can add an Author Name Variant to the form. 
  4. Click Select Research Domain to continue.  TIP:  The broad "Research Domain" choices are somewhat arbitrary and often not useful as filters, so you can skip this step and click Select Organization to continue.
  5. Scan the Organization list carefully and select any/all institutions that you have been affiliated with. The form of entry of institution names can vary, so be sure you find all the variants in the list. Then click Finish Search.
  6. Once you have a results list that looks fairly accurate, click on Create Citation Report. The Citation Report ranks the results in descending order of citations received, and provides a year-by-year summary of citations, a sum of Times Cited, an average citations-per-article figure, an option to remove self-citations, and the h-index for this set of articles. To increase accuracy, browse the entire report, and mark and remove any entries that don't belong there.
  7. You can export the Citation Report as an Excel file if you wish.

To avoid having to repeat this process every time you want to see your citations and h-index, you should register for a ResearcherID (RID). This allows you to claim a unique ID number for yourself within the WOS system, and then attach all your publications to it. After that, you (or anyone else) can get regular updates and reports, and avoid the Author Name problem when you want to repeat this procedure. The RID can be linked to your ORCID ID and will cross-populate your references.

Google Citation Tools

Citation metrics are only as reliable as the underlying data. Google Scholar's metrics are generally not reproducible and will differ - sometimes significantly - from data found in Web of Science. Google indexes a different, wider (and largely unknowable) universe of publications. It is difficult to resolve author name ambiguity.

  • Google Scholar includes a "Cited by" count in its display of individual article entries. This is calculated from citations appearing in other publications indexed in Google Scholar. Clicking on this link will take you to a list of citing articles.
  • Google Scholar Citations allows you to log in to your Google account and create a personal profile of your publications and calculate citation metrics, similar to the Web of Knowledge ResearcherID system.
  • Publish or Perish is a software tool that uses Google Scholar data to calculate various metrics.

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