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Scholarly Credentials Toolkit for Spanish and Portuguese Faculty: Article Impact - Citation Analysis

Selected tools for evaluating academic productivity in the disciplines of Spanish and Portuguese literature and linguistics

Google Scholar and Google Scholar Citations

Google Scholar incorporates a cited reference search that is upending our traditional reliance upon Web of Science. No comprehensive analysis of an author's corpus can afford to overlook Google Scholar. Look for "Cited by X" in the relevant citation of the Google Scholar results list. Note that Google Scholar is the best tool for analyzing the impact of a book or a book chapter as opposed to a journal article. Traditionally it has been very difficult if not impossible to analyze the impact of a book, so this is yet another way in which Google Scholar is changing the game.

Google introduced a "limited launch" of Google Scholar Citations on July 20, 2011. The company opened up the database to anyone interested in creating a profile on November 16. Like the more traditional Web of Science and SCOPUS databases, Google Scholar Citations tracks citations to scholarly publications. But unlike WOS, Google Scholar Citations tracks a range of scholarly works from conference proceedings to books. It is easy to create a profile and well worth doing so, in my view, with one caveat: Google has a spotty record of supporting projects with a necessarily limited audience (recall, for example, the unfortunate consequences of Google's acquisition of Paper of Record).

Web of Science (Institute for Scientific Information)

Web of Science (WOS) analyzes the impact of articles published in the humanities. In other words, find out who is citing whom, when, and where in the journal literature with WOS. Start with a list of the author's publications, preferably from a CV or bibliography. Do not begin your search hoping to identity a list of the author's works or even a single work in WOS, as this can be both difficult and unreliable; better tools exist for identifying an author's corpus (see the MLA International Bibliography box, below). In WOS the author's name must be entered into the database in a particular way. It is therefore recommended to search by the author's last name and first initial, e.g. <Clancy F*>, in combination with a second search facet such as cited year(s) of publication.

There are three citation indexes in Web of Science, all of which are turned on by default: Science Citation Index (SCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), and Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). Each index covers journals in its respective broad area of knowledge. Even if the author is not a scientist but rather a humanist or social scientist, stick with the default search for the most comprehensive results.

Follow these steps to search Web of Science:

  • Click on "Cited Reference Search" at the top of the page to begin the process of identifying articles that cite an author's work(s).
  • Enter the author's name in the Cited Author field like this: <last-name> space <first-initial> immediately followed by an asterisk (*). Example: <Santley R*> picks up works authored by "Robert Santley" and "Robert S. Santley" (same person). As indicated, it is best to add cited year(s), if known, before executing the search.
  • Click "Search" to retrieve your "CITED REFERENCE INDEX" results list. Even precise searches frequently return results with at least a few "false hits" for records with similar authors and titles. You will need to weed these out. This is one reason why, as a general rule, it is less confusing to search for a single article than for multiple works, and to combine the search with a cited year if known. Check the boxes next to the results you believe actually represent the author(s) and title(s) in question.
  • Finally, click "Finish Search" to obtain a list of references to articles that cite the article(s) under consideration. It is possible to sort this list by number of times cited, publication year, first author, and so on. Clicking on a title from the list reveals a link to all the references it cites (its bibliography or works cited list), including the article under consideration. Print, email, or export to RefWorks the results list at the bottom of the page under "Output Records".


    JSTOR has earned its reputation as the premier scholarly journal archive. The database offers a cited reference search but not from the basic or advanced search screens. Follow these steps to perform a cited reference search in JSTOR:

    • Perform a standard search for the article under consideration. If found, click on the article title to reveal its initial, full-text page.
    • A box titled "JSTOR" appears in the right-hand column. This box might indicate "X items Citing this Item." Click on this link to reveal citations to articles available in JSTOR that cite the article under consideration. Note as well the presence of a link to "Articles Citing This Article" in Google Scholar, more about which above.
    • Unfortunately, the standard cited reference search in JSTOR sometimes misses relevant results. If the article title is sufficiently unique, it is possible to perform a manual cited reference search using JSTOR's proximity operator: <"Keyword1 Space Keyword2"~#WordsBetween>. Example: A researcher wishes to discover how many JSTOR articles cite "Rereading the Maps of the Columbian Encounter" by J. Brian Harley, in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Sep., 1992), pp. 522-536. According to JSTOR's standard cited reference search, seven articles (as of Sept. 2011) cite Harley's work. However, a basic keyword search for <"rereading columbian"~5> returns 31 hits, including the following article not in the original count of seven: "Columbus and Anthropology and the Unknown," by Robert Paine, in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Mar., 1995), pp. 47-65. Paine's article cites Harley's earlier article on page 64.

    Ebsco Databases

    MLA International Bibliography (MLA) indexes journal articles, books and dissertations back to 1963. It provides over 1.5 million citations from more than 4,400 journals and series and over 1,000 book publishers. It is by far the most important database for language and literature studies. Indeed, the number of journal titles indexed by this database is sufficiently large so that even a simple author search can broadly determine quantity of scholarly output. MLA can often be used to confirm partial or suspect article citations and/or create a bibliography of journal articles written by an author. Unfortunately, MLA does not offer a cited reference search.

    Academic Search Complete, another database available on the Ebsco platform, offers a cited reference search. Since ASP is the Libraries' most comprehensive periodicals database, it is well worth including in any comprehensive search for cited references.

    Follow these steps to perform a cited reference search in Academic Search Premier:

    • Choose "Cited References" from the blue bar at the top of the database homepage. Available fields include Cited Author, Cited Source, Cited Title, Cited Year, and All Citation Fields. Enter as much information as needed to identify the article(s) under consideration. Click the Search button to retrieve a list of articles that may or may not include the work(s) you are attempting to analyze. Check the radio button next to those works that you can unambigously identify. Finally, click the "Find Citing Articles button to retrive a list of articles that cite the work(s) under consideration.
    • Regular keyword searches can result in citations that include "Cited References (X)" and "Times Cited in this Database (X)." Clicking on the former results in a list of records cited in the original article, i.e. a standard bibliography of works quoted or consulted by the author of the original article; clicking on the latter results in a list of articles that subsequently cited the original article.

    More Options

    The following indexes, databases, and journals might prove useful for tracking cited references in Spanish and comparative literature.

    Guide Author

    Rebecca Lloyd's picture
    Rebecca Lloyd
    Paley Library
    Room 319

    Reliability of Results

    The problem described in the JSTOR box to the left, namely the failure of a formal cited reference search to find all relevant citations, points to a basic rule of citation searching: No single database, not even Google Scholar, can be relied upon to reflect the true and complete number of works citing another work. It is always possible that important citations will be missed by the databases discussed in this guide. Your best strategy is therefore to piece together the most comprehensive results possible by searching multiple databases.

    Duplicate Results

    The databases listed in this section invariably provide duplicate references. One way to easily de-duplicate your results is to import them directly into a folder in RefWorks, an online tool acquired by TULibraries to help researchers manage and organize their citations.