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Publishing and Being Cited Guide

Getting Started with Cited Reference Searching

To begin the process of finding out who has cited your work, you must have a complete and accurate list of all your publications.

No one database or source will have all the information you need to see who has cited your work.  You must use multiple sources.  There are three main databases to search and an assortment of specialty databases.  See the lists at left to link to these databases.

For each publication you have, you will need to search the three main citation tracking resources to ensure a complete search.

Problems with the Process

Unfortunately, the process of cited reference searching has some pitfalls.

  • No one source is comprehensive

You cannot expect to find all your citations in any one source. Typically, Scopus and Google Scholar, all provide different results. How different depends on the field and dates of publication. The following articles provide interesting comparisons of Scopus, and Google Scholar:

  • There are limits on what formats are searchable

The databases available for cited reference searching are primarily composed of articles. Books, book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations and technical reports may be excluded. Although conference proceedings are beginning to be included more often (especially in Scopus), there are fewer places to search for citations of books.  Google Scholar does include some books, and does basic citation analysis for some of its titles.

  • Only certain journals are included in the main databases

Scopus and Google Scholar each index a finite collection of journals. If an article is cited in a journal not indexed by one of these databases, you will not find that citation when searching them. Some other things to consider regarding database indexing:

  • Some journals in various fields may be excluded. Some fields may be more comprehensively covered than others.
  • Journal articles in press are not included in the databases.
  • Journals are not necessarily consistently indexed nor indexed retrospectively when added to the databases.
  • There is limited coverage of non-English publications
  • Formats such as books are usually not included.
  • Publication date affects your results

Scopus currently provides cited reference searching since 1996.

Even Bigger Issue to Consider

While your citation count is important, there are even larger issues to consider.

  • The system provides a limited indication of impact

In addition to the lack of books and other formats in cited reference searching databases, these databases do not look at citations on or links from websites. They are not able to indicate how often an article has been accessed or downloaded from a publisher, website, or institutional repository. Articles in certain fields may be widely read and cited by users who are not likely to publish (e.g. police departments, students, city planners, etc.).

  • Citation counts alone do not indicate the quality of the citations

An article may be cited because it is bad or coming under question.  Simply looking at the citation counts does not give the full picture.  Reading the citing article and noting where and how it refers to the cited work can give a better sense of the impact of the cited work.  

  • Impact factors for journals can be manipulated, "rigging" research

For more on this topic, see the article Why the Impact Factor of Journals Should Not Be Used for Evaluating Research.

  • Results can be misleading

Citation Statistics, a report by the Joint Committee on Quantitative Assessment of Research, identifies a number of ways in which citation data is misused. It reviews the limitations of citation statistics and gives clues on how to best use them.  Beware how you use your statistics.

Cited Reference Searching in Google Scholar

To find information on one article, search for the article title.  In the results list, the number of citations is listed below each result ("cited by").  To find all the works of a researcher, use the process below.

1. Search for an author in Google Scholar using one of the methods listed at the right.

  • If you get too many results or the author's name is common, search for works individually by adding keywords or phrases from the title.

2. Look for Cited by below each result for the number of citations. Click this link to see who is citing this work.

Google Scholar results screen



Setting your Scholar Preferences will give you more functionality by:

  • Showing the Find It @ UMKC link to help you find items the library owns.  (Set the Library Links.)
  • Providing an Import Citation link for each item so you can import it to EndNote or another citation manager.  (Set the Bibliography Manager.)

Scholar preferences link on Google Scholar screen

Beware! Google Scholar is not as sophisticated as Scopus.

  • It won't remove self-citations, so you have to look for these yourself.
  • It sometimes has multiple entries for one work which may duplicate citations.
  • Usage has shown that some of its "citations" are false - you must double check them to make sure your numbers are accurate.
  • Because of this, it takes longer to gather data using Google Scholar.

Google Scholar Search Guides

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