Citation and Journal Metrics: The cite cycle

Why track citations?

Citation indexes such as Web of Science show how a research paper has evolved, as it allows you to:

  • trace back to the original concept
  • look forward to new developments or other branches of research.

You can:

  • see who has referenced a particular publication
  • find out how many times it has been cited
  • track the history of an idea or development from the original concept
  • see who is researching/writing about a particular topic.

In a small number of instances, publications may attract high citation rates because researchers are questioning the publication. This may take the form of questioning the methodology used, or the conclusions drawn. Never assume that a publication that has been cited a lot in its field, automatically ensures that it is good quality research.

Citation tracking databases

The 2 databases that are the most comprehensive when tracking citations are Web of Science, and Scopus.

Some subject specific databases such as CINAHL, Business Source Premier, and IEEE Xplore track how many times publications are cited, but as with all of these databases, the citation counts only apply to within that database.