Increasing your citation count – a how-to guide
FAQ: How can I ensure my work is highly cited?
As a researcher there are a number of ways you can give your citation counts a boost, here are some suggestions.
Content is key
- Produce a piece of well written, top quality, original research. This is essential.
- Where appropriate, acknowledge and cite your own previous work and that of your research group. The bad press about ‘self-citation’ and ‘citation circles’ applies only to the practice of citing irrelevant work; if your own prior research is pertinent then cite it.
- If your research has involved a substantial literature review then consider writing it up. Review papers typically attract more citations than other types of paper – check out the numbers in Journal Citation Reports if you aren’t sure.
Getting it out there
- Publish in the highest quality refereed journal that you can. You probably know which journals are best regarded in your discipline, but if you are branching out into a less familiar subject area then use Journal Citation Reports to check which journals have the highest impact factors or try one of the other tools for assessing journal quality. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues too.
- Speak at your discipline’s key conferences; exhibit or perform in the ‘must see’ locations. Both of these are essential for increasing your personal visibility and raising your research profile.
Credit the right author
- Use a consistent form of your name (initials, forename and surname), ideally throughout your career. Changing your name, for example upon marriage, makes it much more difficult to track citations longitudinally.
- Consider using a researcher identifier. This is a good idea in principle and almost essential if your name is fairly common. ORCID is recommended, but other identifiers are available: ResearcherID, ISNI.
- Write with one or more co-authors. Not only do multiple authors provide multiple opportunities for promoting the work, but also they are more likely to cite the work. If your co-author already has a high profile then early interest in the work is almost guaranteed; if the collaboration is international then so much the better.
Check and verify
- Check the final proofs of your work to ensure your name and affiliation are shown correctly. People often use institutional affiliation to distinguish between authors of the same name (for example in Web of Science) so make sure this is accurate.
- Always cite your own work correctly, even if others don’t. If you originally cite an ‘In press’ or ‘Online first’ item then if possible go back and update the citation to the final published version. It is better to use a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to describe the location of your paper – even if the article is moved, the DOI will still find it.
- Make sure your work is correctly described in citation databases such as Web of Knowledge; if not then ask for it to be changed.
Make it open
- Make your work open access so everyone can read it – there is plenty of evidence to suggest that open access papers are more highly cited.
Submit your paper to an OA journal or deposit a copy of the full text in NECTAR. Ideally you should not sign away your copyright to a publisher, but even if you do, it may be possible to upload a version of your paper to the repository (two thirds of publishers allow some form of ‘self-archiving’ (Sherpa RoMEO)).
- Use appropriate metadata to make it more discoverable (e.g. key words and phrases, abstract, subject descriptors) – again, NECTAR can help with this.
Promote your work
- When your work is published, tell everyone – not only your specialist research community, but also your colleagues down the corridor. Even a coffee shop conversation can raise awareness of your work and result in a potential citation.
- Make use of social media – blog about it, tweet about it, bookmark it, link to it from your Facebook page, share it via your preferred online networking tool (academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley etc.) (See what happened when Melissa Terras tried this approach.)
- Link to it from your personal or research group web pages.
- Promote your project findings on your disciplinary noticeboards and mailing lists (with links to the published work).
- [Added 7/1/15] Check out Professor Jeff Ollerton’s blog post to find out why and how you need to promote your work.
If you disagree with any of these suggestions then please do post a comment, if you can think of others, then do likewise.
Thanks to Lizzie Gadd of Loughborough University for providing some initial ideas for this post.
Image credit: Heppdesigns