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Organizing Academic Research Papers: Citation Tracking


Citation tracking refers to a method of measuring the impact of research studies and/or for identifying leading scholars in a particular discipline based upon a systematic analysis of how often a specific research study has been cited by others, who has cited a particular study, and by exploring what disciplines are represented by those subsequent citations.

Importance of...

Citation tracking can be an effective way to use a "landmark" or influential article to find more recent, related articles that cite that article. It also can be an effective way to identify who has subsequently cited the work of a leading scholar in a particular field.

When conducting your literature review, citation tracking can be a particularly useful means for evaluating a study's "impact" in a particular discipline based upon the number of times an author or article has been cited subsequently by others.

Citation tracking can also be an effective means of determining the interdisciplinary value of a particular study because you can identify how many times subsequent citations to an article appeared in disciplines outside of where the cited article was published.

When tracking citations, keep in mind the following points:

  1. Authors do not always use the same name throughout their careers so be sure you work from a complete and accurate list of an author's publications.
  2. In the case of the Web of Knowledge citation database, it uses APA style for citing authors [last name and first initial only], so a J Smith could be John, Jeff, Jane, Julie, etc. Be sure to truncate the initial [adding an asterick *] to see a more complete list of authors, then locate a record on a topic you know the author writes about and click on that author to excluse articles written by other J Smith's. Fortunately, the database does index more than the first author of a paper so if a second or third author has an uncommon name, you could search instead by that person's name.
  3. Citation services are primarily based on selected journal literature. If the author is cited primarily in books, non-English language journals, or journals not covered in the database, the usefulness of your citation analysis is limited. In addition, citation services rarely cover articles published in scholarly open-access journals [journals published freely on the web].

Managing Your Citations

  • Organize and store your citations
  • Share your citations with other researchers
  • Create quick bibliographies
  • Access your citations online from anywhere

Resources for Tracking Citations

Databases/Search Engines

  • Google Scholar -- Search results that have been cited by others will have a link that says "Cited by [number]." Results can be inconsistent.
  • JSTOR -- Select "article locator" and search by author name and/or parts of the title. Click on the article title to see the number of times cited in the database (on the right). Most current publications not included.
  • Science Direct -- Click the "Search tab. Enter the name of the author and choose "References" from the drop-down menu.