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Research Impact Metrics: Citation Analysis

Information on how to use library resources for citation analysis, including information about impact factors, journal rankings, altmetrics and how to find who has cited an article..


Google Scholar banner image

Google Scholar  has both benefits and limitations when it comes to citation analysis. 


  • It's free
  • It's fast
  • It will most likely offers a higher number of documents which have cited a work.
  • It offers a almost unlimited universe of content. Whatever has been cited by another work on the web and can be collected by Google will be in Google Scholar.



  • There is no standardization of author names so you may have to search multiple variations of a name to find works written by an individual. 
  • Anything cited by another article, whether scholarly or not will be included in the times cited list.  This can include blog posts, syllabi or anything else mentioned in a scholarly article. To determine if a journal is peer-reviewed you can look up the title of the journal in the library database Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory see if the title is listed as "referreed."
  • Every version of an article is included in search results so there are likely duplicate entries for the same article and the times cited count may also include duplicates. 
  • Google Scholar provides only very basic citation analysis options compared with reports and tools available from Scopus and Web of Science. 

Finding the Number of Times an Article has Been Cited

The simplest option for analyzing citation counts in Google Scholar is to find the number of times an individual article has been cited by others. 

image of citation showing "cited by"

The order by which search results are arranged is difficult to determine but generally it appears that the times an article has been cited is given weight and those articles cited the most tend to appear toward the top of the list of results. 

Using Google Scholar Citations

In November, 2011, Google Scholar added a new option called Google Scholar Citations. Authors can use this service to compute citation metrics and track them over time. The same caveats that apply to citation searching in Google Scholar apply to Google Scholar Citations so check the information in the previous box to learn about those. 

To get started with Google Scholar Citations to create your own profile, go to Google Scholar and click on the My Ciations link.

screen shot showing my citations link

Choose the articles or groups of articles you wish to track. (Google Scholar suggests articles for your profile, but also allows you to search and add articles). Later, you can edit or delete the articles in your profile or add more articles to your profile.

Add articles to your profile on an ongoing basis, either by having Google Scholar automatically update your profile, or you can first review and confirm updates.

Warning: Google Scholar frequently confuses authors with similar names so you may get incorrect results if you choose to have Google automatically add citations to your profile. Make sure to review your profile periodically and delete citations inappropriately assigned to your name. 


Finding an Author Profile

It is up to each individual researcher to set up his or her own profile within Google Scholar. Because of this, not every author listed in Google Scholar will have a profile you can view. There are 2 ways to find an author's profile. 

  1. Search by author name. If this author has created a profile a link to it will appear at the top of the list of results.

    screen shot of user profiles link for Susan Gelman
  2. Perform a keyword search and if you find a citation with an author name underlined you will be able to click on that author name to view that author's profile within Google Scholar. 

    screen shot for "A Aldana" within citation

example Google profile for Goncalo Abecasis

Finding an Author's Most Cited Paper

Citations included in an author profile are sorted so that the most cited research appears at the top of the list. Articles can be re-sorted by title or date published by clicking on the appropriate column heading.

If an author has not created a citation profile there is no option within Google Scholar to find the most cited article authored by a specific person.