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.

  • reference page 6Where 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

About Miggie Pickton

Research Support Librarian at the University of Northampton

Posted on February 5, 2013, in Library and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Great post, well done. It’s worth bearing in mind that the median citation rate of papers in many fields is 0 – most papers are never cited! A strategy for exposing your research output is necessary if your work is to break out of that category. The job doesn’t end when the paper is published!

  2. Kathleen Mortimer

    Some good ideas, thank you. I have found that setting up a User Profile on Google Scholar is quite a good way of seeing which of your articles are being cited and you can get alerts for when there are new citations and a reference to the article that has cited you. I don’t really know how accurate it is but it is very easy to set up and quite good fun!

  3. Great post. I wish there was one standard ORCID or ResearcherID!

  4. Stuart CH Allen

    Interesting.

    In light of this statement ‘Use a consistent form of your name (initials, forename and surname), ideally throughout your career.’ can any one explain, and take responsibility for changing how my details are shown on NECTAR?

    SCH Allen is how i have published all my papers, NECTAR shows S Allen, which as you can imaging from a School of Health perspective is difficult, and from a career perspective is incorrect? Just wondering…….

    • Hi Stuart. Thus far, NECTAR policy has been to display author names in a consistent manner using surname and one initial. I acknowledge that this in some cases means losing information, in your case, the rest of your first name.
      The NECTAR Steering group is shortly to be reconvened to discuss matters of NECTAR policy and I am happy to raise this at that meeting.
      In the meantime, I will arrange for all of your NECTAR records to be amended to include your initials.

  1. Pingback: Research Support Hub: 2015 in review | Research Support Hub

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