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Research Impacts Using Citation Metrics

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Liaison Librarian

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Julia Gelfand
Office: Science Library 228

Phone: 949-824-4971


Citation Analysis

Citation Analysis can be an extremely useful measure of the scholarly impact of an article or other created work.

A citation search is a look forward in time from the publication of one item to later works that reference that item.

News speculates that citation rates for "uncited" articles is declining.  "The share of scientific articles recorded as 'uncited' in each year is falling.  Web of Science records suggest that fewer than 10% of scientific articles are liekly to remain uncited.  but the true figure is probably even lower, because large numbers of papers that the database records as uncited have actually been cited somewhere by someone.  The number of references in papers has steadily risen over time, with papers in the sciences now including more than 40 on average." Richard Van Noorden, "The Science That's Never Been Cited," Nature, December 13, 2007, (retrieved Aug. 7, 2018)

Researchers can use citation tracking tools to build references and follow the evolution of ideas, by starting with one seminal article and using it to find other relevant articles. 

Journal Citation Reports come in two broad categories, SCI for STM fields and SSCI for the Social & Behavioral Sciences.  No database currently exists for the Arts & Humanities.  This database goes back to 1999 for both categories.  For older content, here’s the availability:  

The Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) is compiled for earlier coverage in   SSCI Journal Citation Reports  1956-1998 and is found at the SRLF and can be requested as an InterLibrary Loan (Southern Regional Library Facility Storage), 

SSCI Journal Citation Reports 1977-1988 - H1 S68 (Bound Journals section in LL Basement)

SCI Journal Citation Reports 1989-2007 - available at the Science Library Microforms collection - Q1 S3541



An   An author can use citation count tools to monitor and validate the impact of his or her own work.


Web of Science Cited Reference Search

This is the traditional citation research source that uses the Web of Science database (a UCI resource) to search the citation references of scholarly articles in over 10,000 journals.

Cited Reference Search can be used to:

  • Tally the citation count for an article, paper, book or even a work of art.
  • Help find variant forms of a citation that might not show in a regular database search.
  • List the Web of Science journal articles that cite the item.
  • Eliminate self-citations.
  • Create a Citation Map for an item.

Instructions for Using Cited Reference Search in the Web of Science

Instructions for Scopus

Scopus Quick Reference Guide

Video: Introduction to Scopus

Video: Managing your author profile in Scopus


Google Scholar Citation Search

Google Scholar is a database that includes journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports, patents and legal documents.

Search results show citation counts and links to citing articles. These will be primarily from scholarly journals. However, since Google Scholar is not a database of specific journals with clearly defined date ranges, researchers need to be aware of the uncertainty of the coverage.

Instructions for an Article Citation Search in Google Scholar

Scholars and scientists are urged to register for an ORCID ID.  ORCID (Open Researcher & Contributor ID) aims to solve the name ambiguity problem in research by creating a central registry of unique identifiers for individual researchers and will provide you with a persistent identifier  that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized.

Limitations of Citation Analysis

  • Citation tracking is limited to the inventory searched; not every citing work may be included.
  • Items can be cited incorrectly or in different forms, leading to missed results.
  • Subject relevance, author attitude and the importance of a reference are not measured.
  • Citation counts don't measure readership.
  • Citing material consists primarily of academic papers; other written material may or may not be included.

Because of these limitations, it's important that researchers use multiple methods to track citations and evaluate the impact of a work.

The American Society of Cell Biologists released the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assement (DORA) in December 2013 which discourages the use of journal impact factor to judge individual scientists and recommends actions to improve the evaluation system.


The impact of articles and other written output can be measued by more than citation analysis.

Altmetrics are the tools and methods used to study the readership and sharing of online materials, especially material generated in digital sharing media, such as in blogs, collaborative reference managers, bookmarking exchanges and social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook.

These are alternative forms of publication that are inadequately represented in traditional citation counts.

In fact, the word altmetrics is derived from the term alternative metrics.

Mining the impact of this digital material could provide rich metadata beyond citation and usage counts, to include information about user context, value and perception.

PLoS App for Article Level Metrics