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Scholarly Communication Services - Journal / Research Impact

Citation Analysis & Tracking

Citation Analysis

Citation analysis, also known as citation tracking, is when works are reviewed by the number times they are cited or used in publications.  It also includes identifying later works that cite a particular published study.  It is an important tool used by researchers (and institutions) for the following purposes:

  • Trace scholarly research:  identify the progression of research on a topic by identifying authors and other works that cite an initial article.
  • Measure research impact:  the number of times a work has been cited can assist with determining its impact, and the recency of works that later cite a work can determine how quickly a work is cited or used in later research.
  • Decision-making:  citation analysis may be considered for when making decisions for reviews, promotion and tenure, funding, or hiring.

Citation Counts

Citation counts are the number of times an article has been cited in other works.  Although citation counts typically measure the degree to which a particular article is useful to other researchers in support of their work, these metrics are not a measure of the quality of a cited work, since a work can be cited for negative reasons (e.g., refutations or retractions).

Additionally, citation counts are highly dependent upon particular disciplines and the number of researchers in them.  For example, more researchers work in neuroscience than in philosophy, so more papers are published in neuroscience than in philosophy. Citation counts are also dependent on the publication norms of a field and whether or not a discipline tends to cite many works in their publications (known as citation density).  

Where can I find citation counts?  

•     An article as it appears on its journal website.  Publishers may provide citation counts of an article on its web page. For instance, Poverty and Covid-19: Rates of Incidence and Deaths in the United States During the First 10 Weeks of the Pandemic, was an article published in Frontiers in Sociology. Its article page provides a link to article impact which includes a citation count. 

Last updated on Nov 10, 2021 10:33 AM