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Citation Analysis

Counting citations is often called "citation analysis." In your scholarly research, you may need to gauge the importance of a publication by counting the number of times it has been cited by other scholars. When you count the number of times an article has been cited in published research, you gain information about that article's impact on its discipline. If an article has a high number of citations, you may conclude that it has been the subject of discussion or criticism in its discipline. In addition, finding the list of articles that have cited an article can help you find more information about your research topic, a process called "citation chasing."

"Counting citations" sounds simple; however, citation analysis tools count citations from different sets of publications. When you are performing a citation analysis, you may wish to use several resources to count citations in order to fully capture an article's impact.

Several tools can help you to find out how many times a specific article, author, or journal has been cited:

Web of Science


You can use the Web of Science database (composed of Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index) to find the citation count for a specific article.  To use Web of Science, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Library Gateway and search the title, "Web of Science," in the search box under Easy Search. Click "Search." Easy Search, web of science
  2. A direct link to Web of Science will be at the top of your search results: click that link to enter the database, then click on "Cited Reference Search."

    Web of Science "Cited Reference Search"

  3. In Cited Reference Search, you will need to enter information about your article. For example, we could use Cited Reference Search to locate the following citation:

    Leggett, Anthony J. The quantum measurement problem.  Science v. 307, n. 5711, pp. 871-872, 2005.

    Web of Science Cited Reference Search for Leggett article

  4. Cited Reference Search produces a list of articles.  Some of the articles will not be what you want.  Match the citation information to an article on the list.  In this case, we know we are looking for an article by Leggett in volume 307 of Science, published in 2005.  Place a check mark next to the correct article, and click "Finish Search."

    Web of Science search results

    The final result is a list of articles that have cited the article:

    Web of Science - 24 search results

Remember: When Web of Science counts citations, it is only counting citations from articles indexed by ThomsonISI, the company that owns Web of Science.

Scopus


Scopus will also provide a citation count for a specific article. To use Scopus, follow these steps:

    1. Visit the Library Gateway and click on the link that says, "Online Journals & Databases." shows Online Journals & Databses tool
    2. In Online Journals & Databases, enter "Scopus" in the search box and click "Search." Online Journals & Databases - Scopus
    3. When you get into Scopus, enter the information you have about the author or article for which you are searching. For example, we could search for the following:

      Leggett, Anthony J. The quantum measurement problem. Science v. 307, n. 5711, pp. 871-872, 2005.

      Scopus search screen
    4. Scopus tries to locate the article for which you are searching. Look at the record(s) Scopus produces to be sure that it has given you the correct article. Look to the right of the record for the number of times the article has been cited. Click on that number to see the list of articles that have cited the article for which you searched. Scopus search result
    5. The final result is a list of articles that have cited the article. Scopus - 24 results for article search 

Remember: When Scopus counts citations, it is only counting citations from articles included in the Scopus database. 

Google Scholar


If you search for an article in Google Scholar, you can view both articles and book chapters that have cited a work.  To use Google Scholar, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Google Scholar at http://scholar.google.comGoogle Scholar looks a lot like the regular Google interface. However, when you search Google Scholar, you are at the web address http://scholar.google.com. When using Google Scholar, you are searching within a selection of journals and book titles.
  2. Select "Advanced Scholar Search" to search for a specific article.Google Scholar home
  3. In Advanced Scholar Search, enter information about the article for which you would like to find cited references. Google Scholar advanced search
  4. Google Scholar locates the article.  Below the citation, the link that says, "Cited by..." indicates the number of times Scholar find that the article has been cited.Google Scholar cited by
  5. Clicking on the "Cited by" link produces the list of articles that have cited the article for which you searched. Google Scholar articles list

Important notes about Google Scholar

Google Scholar is likely to produce more cited references than either Web of Science or Scopus, but it also produces duplicates.  In addition, Google does not provide a complete list of all the publications it indexes, so it is difficult to know if Google Scholar provides comprehensive citation counts.

Learn more


Certain disciplines, journals, and document types may not be well represented in the more traditional citation counting resources, like Web of Science.  Some databases that also provide citation counts include: