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Citation Searching

Author Impact

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. 

Web of Science - Author Search

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

  • It excludes publications 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, which may undercount your total actual citations.

Here's how you do it.

  • Connect to Web of Science (and make sure you're searching the "Core Collection").
  • To increase precision and reduce noise:  Open the More Settings menu in the lower part of the window, and select the database segments most aligned with your area of study, and a custom date range corresponding with your years of publishing activity. (Optional)

author search form image

  • Select Author Search(beta) from the search menu.  Type your last name and first name 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. 
  • The Author Search tool uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to create a list of matching authors based on dates and subject areas. It usually (but not always) catches variant forms of your name and collapses work from multiple institutions.  If there is more than one grouping that seems to be you, select and combine all those groups.  You can claim your author record within the system as well, by logging in with your personal WOS account.  (Note:  This tool isn't perfect, and can miss articles that may be yours.  It's a good idea to check the list closely against your CV.)
  • A list of publications from the Web of Science databases is assembled, in reverse chronological order.  Citation metrics are shown alongside. 
  • Click "View as a set of results" to edit, limit, analyze, or view links to these publications.
  • From the Results Set view, you can click on Create Citation Report. The Citation Report ranks the articles 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.
  • You can export the Citation Report as an Excel file.

A Step Further: Publons

To avoid having to repeat this process every time you want to see your citations and h-index, you can register for a Publons ID. 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 Publons account can be linked to your ORCID ID and will cross-populate your references.  (Publons replaced the ResearcherID system.)

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 very difficult to resolve author name ambiguity.

The h-index

The h-index is a measure of "citedness" as a proxy 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 is not an absolute number and will vary considerably depending on several factors.  For example, different databases (e.g. Web of Science vs Google Scholar) cover different segments of the literature and use different methods to count citations. 

Comparing h-indexes:  An author's number of publications and the length of time they've been active affects the h-index.  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.

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