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Quantifying the Impact of My Publications: Citations

This libguide provides guidance on metrics and reports that can be used to quantify performance and impact based on publication data.

What are Citations?

A citation is a reference to a specific work cited in another work. In most instances, the work is a scholarly work such as a peer-reviewed journal article.

Databases and Resources for Citations

    CINAHL offers a Cited References feature that provides a list of citations that cite a particular publication in the CINAHL database.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar allows for searching of a particular work or author and retrieves results from a variety of sources such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, meeting abstracts, web sites, gray literature, PPTs and other formats. It also allows users to search within cited works. Select the "Cited by" link and selecting the "Search within articles citing...XYZ work" checkbox to discover the impact of a work. A feature of Google Scholar is Google Scholar Citations which allows users to create a personal publication profile which allows for generation of citation reports. See the Establishing Your Author Name tab.
  • PsycINFO
    PsycINFO offers a Cited Reference tool that allows for location of cited works indexed in PsycINFO. Use the Cited References feature to find a work, then select Find Citing Articles.
  • Science Direct
    ScienceDirect is a database that contains over 25% of the world’s science, technology and medicine full text and bibliographic information (journals and books) published by Elsevier and other publishers. ScienceDirect offers a search feature that displays cited references (journal articles or books) for a specific author or publication.
    SCOPUS provides evidence of collaboration with other scientists and organizations, publication productivity, cited-by works, the h-index and also includes tools for creating citation graphs and Wordle maps. Scopus also offers a Citation Tracker feature that allows for a listing of articles, web sources and patents that cite a particular publication since 1996. The Citation Tracker feature also allows for generation of a Citation Overview chart and for removal of self-citations from the overall citation counts.
  • Web of Science
    Web of Science provides evidence of collaboration with other scientists and institutions, publication productivity, cited-by works, the h-index and also includes tools for creating citation maps. A Cited Reference Search will provide the number of times a particular publication has been cited in the Web of Science database since its publication. According to Clarivate Analytics, a Cited Reference Search will “. . . discover how a known idea or innovation has been confirmed, applied, improved, extended, or corrected.”
  • PubMed Central
    PMC offers a feature that allows for location of citing works in PMC. From the record page for a work, use the Cited By Other Articles in PMC feature to find other citing works in PMC.
  • Publish or Perish
    Publish or Perish is a software program that retrieves and analyzes academic citations. It uses Google Scholar to obtain the raw citations, then analyzes these and presents a variety of statistics.

What is Citation Analysis?

 Citation analysis is the examination of citing works to an individual work (or a group of works). It allows for contextual understanding as to the nature, purpose and motivation of the citing author/s and is a traditional tool for measuring impact using publication data. Some characteristics of citing works that can be used for narrative purposes include:

  • affiliations represented by the authors of the citing works (academia, industry, government, etc.)
  • countries represented by the authors of the citing works
  • languages of the citing works
  • subject focus or discipline of the citing works
  • document types of citing works

The inherent assumption is that significant publications will demonstrate a high citation count. In some instances, citation analysis may not provide the entire story of the impact of a research project. Issues are:

  • Do numbers tell a story?
  • Is citation analysis meaningful for non-academia audiences such as the public, policy-makers, clinical trial participants, healthcare providers, or grant funding agencies?
  • Are citations indicative or predictive of translational or clinical applications?
  • Do citations provide a full narrative of meaningful health outcomes?

How Do My Citations Rank?

There are two resources for determining how the number of citations to a work compares to other cited works.

Elsevier Scopus provides traditional citation counts, the Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) and benchmarking.

  • Citation Counts
    • Number of times a work has been cited.
  • Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI)
    • The FWCI is the ratio of the article's citations to the average number of citations received by all similar articles over a three-year window. Each discipline makes an equal contribution to the metric, which eliminates differences in researcher citation behavior. A FWCI greater than 1.00 means the article is more cited than expected according to the average.
  • Citation Benchmarking
    • Citation benchmarking shows how citations received by this article compare with the average for similar articles. 99th percentile is high, and indicates an article in the top 1% globally. It takes into account the year of publication, document type and disciplines associated with its source.

Clarivate Analytics Essential Science Indicators (ESI) is another resource. ESI is a compilation of science performance statistics and science trends data using data from Clarivate Analytics Web of Science. ESI provides Field Baseline tables based on specific research fields for citation analysis: Citation Rates and Percentiles. Each table contains citation data for the past ten years.

As an example, the Citation Rates Table displays data on the average citation rates of papers within the scientific fields over each of the past 10 years. The calculation is number of citations / number of papers, where papers is defined as regular scientific articles, review articles, proceedings papers, and research notes. The Percentiles Table displays levels of citation activity. The larger the minimum number of citations, the smaller the peer group.