How to track citations – Google Scholar vs. Web of Science

Citation tracking has become increasingly recognised as a way to assess the impact of articles in scholarly journals. Below we compare two of the most popular tools for tracking citations. Many thanks to Juliet Ralph and Angela Carritt for their very useful WISER session on this topic.

Google Scholar

Search as normal in Google Scholar, using keywords to locate the desired article. Once found, you will see “cited by…” beneath the article’s title and description. Clicking on this hyperlink will show you citations for the relevant works.

Google’s algorithms allow it to bring back a great number of citation results and it may search more broadly than its paid counterparts. Unlike Web of Science, Google Scholar retrieves citations from books. However, the results should be viewed with some scepticism as they may include duplicates and citations that simply don’t exist.

Web of Science

Web of Science indexes over 10,000 high-impact journals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities, as well as international proceedings coverage for over 120,000 conferences. It is reliable and thorough. Members of the University of Oxford should access this database through OxLIP+ to ensure full, free access.

To track citations, complete a search. In the results, one can view citations by clicking on the hyperlink number of “times cited” beneath the article description.

One useful aspect of Web of Science is that it can analyse citation results, which Google Scholar does not. Click on “Analyze Results” (top right) to view various metrics for the article(s).

So which one to choose?

In most cases, it is worth checking both! They have different strengths. Google Scholar checks a wider range of sources than Web of Science, but Web of Science’s citations are more trustworthy. Using both tools, you can develop a very complete citation picture.

To learn more about Google Scholar, Web of Science or other citation tracking tools, please come talk to us!


About Nuffield College Library

We are a social sciences library serving Nuffield College and the University of Oxford
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2 Responses to How to track citations – Google Scholar vs. Web of Science

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Nuffield College Library's Blog

  2. Pingback: How to track citations / impact factor tools | Nuffield College Library's blog

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