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Bibliometric Measures in Citation-Tracking Databases: Google Scholar citation data

Bibliometric measures for individual items in Google Scholar

The measures below are available for some documents in Google Scholar: 

  • Cited By: Total number of times that a given publication has been cited by other publications in Google Scholar. This metric captures how many times other publications indexed in Google Scholar have cited the item of interest.
  • Web of Science Citation Count: Google Scholar also captures the total number of times that a given publication has been cited by other publications in Web of Science.

Google Scholar can pull citation counts from Google Scholar and Web of Science indexed publications.

Journal-level measures in Google Scholar

Google Scholar has identified a list of top 100 publications in several languages, and has ranked each of these journals by their h-5 index and h-5 median. For more information, see Journal Impact Ranking.

  • h-5 index: The h5-index for a publication is the h-index for articles published in the last 5 complete years.
  • h-5 median: The h5-median for a publication is the median number of citations for the articles that make up its h5-index.

H-5 index and h-5 medians are available for journals in Google Scholar.

Google Scholar Citations Profile

A Google Scholar Citations Profile allows you to create an author profile listing publications that are authored by you and are indexed in Google Scholar.

  • This profile offers several bibliometric measures such as citation counts, h-index, i15-index, and citation graph options.
  • Note that Google Scholar automatically selects potential article results for you. This means it is always necessary to take the time to review and vet the publications in your profile!

Google Scholar generates Citation Profiles based on bibliometric data available that can be linked to a specific author.

Metrics available in Google Scholar Profiles: 

  • Citation Counts: Citation counts are available per publication, overall (for all works in a Google Scholar Citations Profile), or limited to the last five years (for all works in a Google Scholar Citations Profile). This measure is limited to Google Scholar data.
  • Citation Graph: This visual offers detailed citation data within a Google Scholar Citations Profile. A graph capturing total citations by year is available for all publications in a Google Scholar Citations Profile; similarly, a graph capturing total citations by year for a single publication is available when looking at the detailed record for an item listed in a Google Scholar Citations Profile.
  • H-indexCaptures output based on the total number of publications and the total number of citations to those works. This measure is limited to Google Scholar data.
  • i10-index: The number of publications by a researcher with at least 10 citations. This measure is limited to Google Scholar data.

  • Follow New Citations: This profile also offers an option to alert you via e-mail anytime a publication receives a new citation within Google Scholar. 

Google Scholar allows users to track changes in authors' Citation Profiles.

Known limitations of Google Scholar's citation data

Google Scholar broadly defines 'scholarly', which can result in inflated citation counts when compared to other citation-tracking tools such as Scopus and Web of Science. See more information about the limitations of citation-tracking databases.

  • Google Scholar uses Google to crawl and index content on the web that is considered to be scholarly, which means that citations are not always from scholarly or peer-reviewed sources.
  • For example, an undergraduate thesis or an acknowledgement from a paper might be counted as a citation.
  • Google Scholar searches also offer limited precision for author names and lack a robust capability for searching affiliations or institutions. This can result in problematic results for common author names, as it is difficult to do proper refinement.

Locating citation variants in Google Scholar

Citation variants can be identified by clicking on "All versions" for a single publication in Google Scholar. Citation variants happen when one document misspells the citation for another document. 

  • This approach captures the cited item's main Google Scholar record, along with other citation variants for the publication.
  • Citation variants are often due to slight variation in the item's bibliographic information such as incorrect volume, issue, or page number(s).

Google Scholar collects information on citation variants for publications.