Really, it’s normal

December 1, 2016

It’s okay. It’s perfectly natural and healthy. Everyone does it, you know. I mean, it’s not like anyone brags about it but they do it. Regularly. So go ahead and don’t feel ashamed.

Go on over to Web of Science and see how your citations are coming along for the year.

35 Responses to “Really, it’s normal”

  1. 24 Says:

    I was wrong though. I have “as many”.


  2. xykademiqz Says:

    Web of Science, Schmeb of Schmience. Google Scholar FTW; in many fields, your citations and h-index according to Google Scholar are what counts. Make your profile if you haven’t already:


  3. Penfold Says:

    Just checked. Thanks… Further proof that 2016 sucked, any way you look at it. Bring on 2017


  4. drugmonkey Says:

    Sure if you want to count blogs and master’s theses…


  5. jmz4 Says:

    I peaked in 2015…


  6. 24 Says:

    I want to count blogs and master’s theses.


  7. drugmonkey Says:

    Patience, jmz4hopper.


  8. Dave Says:

    I’m about the same this year. Bit disappointing as one or two papers that I was proud of underperformed. Almost at 1000 total cites since 2011 though, which is not awful.


  9. Pinko Punko Says:

    Slightly down. Suspect the hill has been crested. Hoping for plateau, if not then maybe ski jump. Maybe just all downhill.


  10. Ola Says:

    Not getting how this works. W.O.S. will let you search for citations on papers that were published in a given year, but how do you search for citations of all your work that were made within a given year? Does it depend on the level of subscription your institution has for W.O.S., because our library usually goes for the budget model on these things.

    I prefer the free Scopus author preview function and h-index as a measure of citation – so long as that number keeps climbing over the years it’s all good (currently at 46). They also provide a nice graph over on the right side of the page where you can see how your citations stack up against previous years (for me 2016 YTD is down about 10% from 2015 total).


  11. drugmonkey Says:

    You search by author.


  12. odyssey Says:

    I’ve learnt some interesting stuff from a PhD dissertation, found via Google Scholar, that cited my work. Getting cites is nice. Learning from those who cite you (correctly) is valuable.


  13. drugmonkey Says:

    Sure. But GS isn’t what you use for the metrics.


  14. AcademicLurker Says:

    It’s funny how the lag phase differs for different papers. Some start getting cites right away, others get ignored for a few years then suddenly take off. I’ve never found any pattern that explains it (publication venue, impact factor, sub-field & etc.).


  15. odyssey Says:

    Metrics schmetrics. Do the best work you can and forget th… Oooh, my h-index just went up.


  16. Jim Woodgett Says:

    Silly DM, the rule is you use whatever scheme/metric gives you the biggest number. Then you game it.

    Just gave a talk where the introducer cited my h-index. Threw me off the 1st couple of mins. I said it should be the gh-index (# of visible grey hairs).


  17. drugmonkey Says:

    AL- well obv the ones that lag mean you are an innovative field leader who is ahead of the curve!


  18. drugmonkey Says:

    AL- I’ve found that *my* papers are slow and steady whereas one substantial collaboration generated flash in the pan cites- *much* higher at first but they petered out eventually. Subfield dynamics, really.


  19. Dr Becca Says:

    Not quite as many as 2015, which is surprising since our arguably biggest splash paper came out about a year ago. Perhaps it’s still ramping up.

    However, happy to see that recent reviews are doing well.


  20. shrew Says:

    I also don’t have as many citations as 2015. The only possible explanation is that people haven’t published as many papers this year as last year, because they have been preoccupied with establishing collaborations in Canada and the Antipodes.


  21. xykademiqz Says:

    But GS isn’t what you use for the metrics.

    Maybe not in the biomed; this seems to be highly field dependent. In several physical science fields I am familiar with, including a link to your Google Scholar profile in your CV and your professional homepage is now common practice; when we discuss faculty candidates/awardee nominees etc., the GS profile is the first thing everyone looks up (probably before the homepage). GS has the benefit of being free and easily accessible from all over the world, as opposed to WoS being inaccessible to a great many institutions (yes, there is a world outside of the West) and generally just being a$$holes (I had to write twice to them to fix inaccuracies in my citation record). Sure, with GS you get some dissertation cites, but I would argue those are legitimate citations (someone has learned and/or expanded upon your work); also, having one dissertation citation per several hundred journal citations is hardly a significant distortion of the relevant metrics.


  22. Rheophile Says:

    Doing well this year! But also more and more convinced that these numbers are useless. Subfield variation > person-to-person variation, I think. For instance, as a postdoc, I have a larger h-index than a couple of associate professors in this department I’m applying to. Citation, publication norms are *very* different in those subfields.


  23. Yizmo Gizmo Says:

    I think the average number of citations for a science publication is about 4, and the mode is <3.
    Which raises the question, why did I work so damn hard on them?


  24. jojo Says:


    Certainly don’t know anyone in my field (I’m in bioscience but not neuro) that uses Web of Science anymore. Everyone uses Google Scholar. It’s just better.


  25. drugmonkey Says:

    I never understand why knowledge of how subfield drives citation metrics makes them less meaningful. I think it makes it more meaningful- and reminds you of what you can and cannot interpret about two different careers.


  26. Rheophile Says:

    DM: in principle, I agree – with good knowledge about subfield variation, it at least rules out certain comparisons you might want to make. You can hopefully make reasonable comparisons between researcher preeminence if they are all in the same subfield – though how narrowly you have to define subfield is pretty worrisome. In practice, I feel that the vast majority of times comparisons are made (e.g. in hiring) bias swamps the relevant signal. People are aware of this, but think they can still use the information. I’m pretty sure that unless they’re analyzing citation rates quantitatively (like the NIH Relative Citation Ratio), they’re wrong.


  27. drugmonkey Says:

    “Joe Blow does really good work but Jane Doe’s stuff doesn’t really have impact” is worse.


  28. New(ish) PI Says:

    I check Google Scholar every day. My department has a specific h-index requirement for tenure, and I’m only 1 point and 2 citations away!


  29. drugmonkey Says:

    Do they check self-cites?


  30. AcademicLurker Says:

    My department has a specific h-index requirement for tenure

    Ugh. Give people a metric, and they’ll abuse it.


  31. Anon Says:

    Newbie PI, give me a paper to cite and I will improperly insert it in the supplemental of a master’s thesis or published conference abstract. Small fee of 10% of your assistant/associate professor salary difference for 1yr… just kidding, maybe. Unrelated note: anyone want to open a business like this is india/china with a fake office in Switzerland and California?


  32. Another Assistant Prof Says:

    I’m not a big hitter, but my # of cites has (almost exactly) doubled every year for the past few years. Being the model of exponential growth feels quite satisfying 😉 Also depressing because I realize this is going to have to peak within the next two years


  33. I-75 Scientist Says:

    Woot! In one night went from 2 behind, to 4 head of last year.
    No change in h-index. Womp womp.


  34. imager Says:

    Hmm, # of citations down quite a bit (barely over 500, last year it was over 600) but H-index up…


  35. shrew Says:

    I thought of this post today because I was on G-Schol earlier this afternoon and I already have more citations this year than all of 2015, and way, way more than 2016. Did people freak out or something in 2016? Good thing everything worked itself out and is totally fine now.


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