Understand Bibliometrics

Q1. How do I know when my article has been cited?

Q2. What are Bibliometrics?

Q3. What can I do to improve my citations?

Q4. One of the journals I have published in has an impact factor of 5. What does that mean and why does it matter?

Q5. How do I find out about my citations?

Q6. I want to calculate my H-Index; which tool do I use?

Q7. Where can I find the ranking (impact factor) for the journal Management Science?



A1. One really good way to keep track of your citations is by creating an alert in the Web of Science. This will notify you each time your article has been cited. You can access the Web of Science by going to the library home page and clicking on databases. Scroll down to the Web of Science.

This short video shows you how to set up and manage your citation alerts.

(this video is reproduced here with the permission of the Web of Science).


A2. Bibliometrics are a means of measuring patterns of authorship, publication and the use of the literature. In other words who is writing what; in what format; who is reading it and then citing it in their own published work.  It is a quantitative measure, meaning it is a count and as such is a basic metric. However, bibliometrics are widely used in a number of assessment exercises as reports can be drawn up fairly quickly. Bibliometrics are also used as evidence of publishing activity to support applications for funding and promotion and in deciding where to publish research in order to gain the most visibility so that the material will be highly cited by others. As a measure it works best on the published journal literature and especially for the Sciences. Humanities have different indicators, some subjects do not rely on the published journal literature but will disseminate through conference papers and it does not work for inter-disciplinary research. At best, results should be regarded as indicators only and should be treated with caution. Bibliometrics are best used in conjunction with qualitative methods such as  peer review, funding and awards received and patents created.

The main indicators are publication counts, citation counts, and an author’s H Index. These measures can be used to ascertain trends, publication types, journals being used and research fields. The citation impact can be discerned from average citation counts, trends, normalised citation impact, share of output in the world’s top 10%, 5% and 1%. They can also be used to work out local and international collaborations.

Publication counts

A researchers list of publications can be found in a number of bibliometrics databases.  These are Web of Science, Thomson Reuters Incites, Scopus, Publish or Perish and Google Citations. These can be subject to any number of errors. If a researcher uses more than one version of his/her name their publications can become scattered under the variant names. (Best tip ever is only use one version of your name and stick with that.) The same goes for the Institutional Affiliation, always use the same name for your institution spelt the same way so that your publications can be accurately filed together in the one place.

Citations counts

Citations indicate that this research is being talked about in the community and it is seen that high citation counts equals research excellence but this may not be the case. An article may be highly cited because the research is so bad everybody cites it as a negative. The article may take a highly controversial stance so it is highly cited in order to be debated. An article may also be highly cited because it introduces a new methodology which everyone then has to cite.

Citations are important because they are used both for the individual and the institution. Citations counts will be found in the same databases as the publication counts. A citation database will count the number of references to earlier works in an article and then add those counts to the individual author’s citations count. So if an author knows he has been cited 25 times it means a reference has been made to his/her original work 25 times by other authors.

Citation counts can also be used to identify the leading researchers in a particular field, the emerging areas of new research, who are an institution’s potential collaborators/rivals and what is the impact of an individual/group research output. However, it should be remembered that up to as much as 90% of papers published in scientific journals are never cited and many more will include self-citations where the author cites him/herself.

Citation counts are very important for the University Rankings. The Shanghai Rankings allocate 20% of score to citations, QS World University Rankings count citations per faculty and allocate a 20% weighting to that with the final score based on research performance against the size of the research body. In The Time Higher Education Rankings citations comprise the broadest category receiving a weighting of just under one third of the overall score.

H Index

All researchers who have published have an H index which can again be found in the bibliometrics databases. An author with an H index of 10 means he/she has written 10 papers each of which has been cited in other papers at least 10 times. See Question 6: I want to calculate my h-Index, which tool do I use? for more details.


A3. For starters remember an author cites a work because it is relevant (in some way to what he/she is writing) and he/she knows and can prove it exists. It is estimated that a researcher can spend 9 hours a week reading the literature. So pick a catchy title, create a considered abstract and think carefully about the keywords you assign to your article. You need to ensure that you are using the keywords other researchers will use to find your material. Look at the ranking and impact factor of the journal you want to publish in and find out is it included or indexed by the bibliometrics databases such as Web of Science or Scopus. There can be an open access advantage to publishing your author’s final version in an Open Access Repository in that it gets a version of your work out to the scholarly community very quickly. This will also create a list of your publications that are available on open access and a web address that can be quickly inserted into funding or promotion applications.

Remember that self-citations are often excluded from the bibliometrics databases but can demonstrate the development of your own work. Moreover, there have been some studies that claim that the more you cite yourself, the more you will be cited.

                “our models suggest that each additional self-citation increases the number of citations from others by about one after one year, and by about three after five years “

Fowler, J. & Aksnes, D.: Does self-citation pay? Scientometrics, 2007, vol.72, 3, pp.427-437, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11192-007-1777-2)

Put up your researcher profile in Google Scholar, ResearcherID, Scopus and Orcid. Find academic/research networking sites where you can share your research with your peers and these are often ranked highly in Google and other search engines. A good example in the Sciences is ResearchGateSSRN for the Social Sciences, HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). Use social media such as blogs, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia links especially if the material is available on an open access repository because you can provide the link and people can download for free. A useful article on this subject is

Bik, H., Goldstein, M. (2013). An introduction to social media for scientists. Plos Biol 11 (4):e1001535.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001535.

Available here

Remember if people know about your work and can read it your chances of being cited are greatly increased.


A4. The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is the average number of citations received in a year by articles published in this journal in the previous two years, so in this case that is 5 citations per article. It matters because of bibliometric analysis which looks at, among other things, citation counts. If you publish in a journal with a high impact factor, you increase your chances of having material cited. When it comes to being cited, visibility is everything so you should look to publish in journals with a high JIF.


A5. There are a number of tools you can use. Web of Science allows you to use the Author Finder to look at a single author and view a list of their publications including citations. You can then generate a Citation Report from that list. The Citation Report will include the H index, total number of papers and total number of citations. Charts and year by year citation analysis are also provided.

Publish or Perish software works with Google Scholar data to produce metrics for published material. Google Scholar covers a lot of material not well represented in other tools and it may be the best tool for researchers in some disciplines (such as computer science, engineering). POP provides a greater range of metrics for individuals than any of the other tools. However, in POP you must check for errors and duplications. Key metrics in POP are total number of papers, total number of citations, average number of citations per paper, average number of citations per year, H-Index and there are others.

Scopus allows yoy to do an Author search for a single author. This search has useful tools for dealing with variant names of authors and getting the single range for a particular author and no other with the same name by country, affiliation etc. You can get a list of publications for the author including citations. You can use the Citation Tracker to produce a Citation Overview for an author's publications which includes the H-Index and a year by year analysis of citations for each paper. Scopus only includes citations after 1996.

Remember there may be specialist databases for your field taht offer citation tools as well. Examples are Spires, which covers physics literature and has citation data, and CiteSeer for computer and information science.


A6. A researcher has a H-Index of 10 if 10 of their papers have been cited at least 10 times.

The main tools used for calculating the H-Index are Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. All of these databases are selective in coverage and conference proceedings and books are not adequately covered. They all need to be used with caution.

WOS (Web of Science, subscription)

Covers about 10,000+ journals but has an excellent depth of coverage (from 1900 to the present for some journals), a large number of records are enhanced by cited references and it is improving regional coverage. WOS was the first database to incorporate the H-Index. It is possible to view the H-Index minus self-citations for the first author only. It does include some conference proceedings. However, it does not cover as many journals as Scopus, its coverage of Science is considerably better tahn its coverage for Arts and Humanities. It does not cover books to any great extent. It can be hard to distinguish between authors with the same name.

Scopus (Subscription)

Covers a large number of journals (20,000+). It does have some books and conference proceedings. It is very good on Science and technology journals. It has good tools for distinguishing authors with the same name. It automatically generates the H-Index. However, most journals are only covered for the last few years. It is very poor on the Arts and Humanities and only includes citations from 1996.

Google Scholar (free)

Covers journals, academic websites, theses, grey literature etc; it incorporates books from the Google Book Project. It also includes born digital items. A record is created for every item cited. However, it does not automatically calculate the H-Index (you can use Publish or Perish to do that). It does not provide a list of the journals covered or indicate the timescale covered. It covers some non-research material such as course reading lists, student projects etc. It has poorer coverage of print only material. Hit counts and citation counts must be treated with caution as they are often inflated by the non-scholarly material and multiple versions included. There is no way to distinguish between authors who have the same initials. The lists can contain duplicates of the same article so must be checked carefully.

The best advice is to check your work in each and see which tool gives you the highest H-Index. Please note DIT Library Services has a subscription to WOS but not to Scopus.


A7. DIT Library Services subscribes to Journal Citation Reports which allows you to evaluate journals using citation data.

Since Management Science is a business journal, choose JCR Social Sciences Edition and select the Search for a Specific Journal option; then click on the Submit button.

On the next screen, enter Management Science in the search box.

A range of citation data (total cites, impact factor, immediacy factor, etc) is then displayed.

Click on the to view definitions and explanations of the various types of citation data.

Back to Top