A bibliographic map of LSE research

Citation analysis and research visibility

Understand how your research improves the world

In today's world, researchers are requested not only to publish high quality research findings but enhance their access and discoverability. This page will provide you with various techniques and tools to increase and measure your research visibility and ultimately boost your citation performance.

What is citation analysis and bibliometrics?

Citation analysis (also referred as citation tracking) is “the study of the relationship between and among the authors of texts, mainly for the purpose of identifying relevance and influence (International Encyclopaedia of Information and Library Science). In others, it is about citation frequency.


  • The citation data will relate only to articles indexed within the database. If the author is cited primarily in books, non-English language journals, or journals not covered by citation databases, the usefulness of the citation analysis is limited.
  • Citations are a researcher's subjective choice, which can be affected by many factors, eg: age or easy availability of a publication.
  • Different citations in a paper are usually unequally important - the cited reference is either marginally or highly related to the article citing it.
  • Poor quality papers can be cited while being criticised or refuted.    

Bibliometrics is the quantitative analysis of written documents. It is frequently used to analyse scientific and scholarly publications (Centre for Science and Technology Studies).

LSE researchers are encouraged to make sure they are using quantitative indicators in an informed way. As well as being robust and transparent, they are likely to be discipline‑specific and to vary over time. It is therefore important that they are used in context, taking into account the discipline and timeframe under consideration. It is increasingly recognised, that bibliometrics should be used in combination with other qualitative measures when being used to assess quality as expressed in the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics.

Watch the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics from Diana Hicks on Vimeo.

Read the LSE Statement on the Responsible Use of Citation Metrics. [DOC]

Why conduct citation analysis?

Why conduct citation analysis?

Citation analysis may be conducted for following purposes:

  • To establish or quantify the academic influence that a particular research output has had by identifying which other authors based their work upon it or cited it within their own papers.
  • To discover how research findings are being used.
  • To learn more about a field or a topic.
  • To assess relationships between authors, fields.

Citation analysis and research analytics tools

Citation tools 

There are several tools available for citation analysis, some are subscription-based and others are free. However, no single database covers all works that cite other works. Searching across several databases is necessary to get a fuller picture of the scholarly influence of an author, a publication or a journal.

Increasingly, ejournal platforms and subject-specialist bibliographic databases include citation data within their article records. 

Web of Science (by Clarivate Analytics, formerly Thomson Reuters and also formerly known as ISI Web of Knowledge)

Web of Science (WoS) is a citation database, covering academic journals worldwide in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, and conference proceedings. It is updated daily.

To date, it includes:

  • Science Citation Index > 8,500 journals
  • Social Science Citation Index > 3,000 journals
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index > 1,700 journals
  • Conference Proceedings Citation Index and Book Citation Index > 8 million conference proceedings and 111,000 books

WoS’s data is also used to compile Clarivate’s Journal Citation Reports, Essential Science Indicators, and Highly Cited Researchers.

Web of Science is cross-indexed with Google Scholar. Reciprocal links allow users to run the same search across both platforms, locating full texts where available. Cross-indexing is explained on this page.

Access Web of Science

You can access Web of Science on campus and from home. This will also enable you to connect to the full-text articles that LSE has licensed. 

Read further information on Web of Science including tutorials, guides, journal submission process etc.

Scopus (by Elsevier)

Scopus is considered to be the primary competitor to the Web of Science database for citation analysis. It might be slightly more international in coverage than Web of Science and the current Scopus interface is more intuitive to use. It is updated daily.

To date, it includes:

  • > 76 million records, with the most thorough coverage from 1996 forward.
  • around 9,530 active journals in social sciences
  • book series, non-serial books and conference proceedings 

Access Scopus 

You can access Scopus on campus and from home. This will also enable you to connect to the full-text articles that LSE has licensed.

For further information on using Scopus, visit Elsevier’s Scopus support centre.

Google Scholar 

Google scholar is not a human-curated database but an academic search engine of the Web which narrows the results to "scholarly" ones based on machine automated criteria. For instance, Google Scholar will count citations from online slide sets, reports, undergraduate essays and other sources.

Although Google Scholar does not provide a list of the sources that it is searching to find citations to publications, a 2018 research paper estimated that Google Scholar holds around 389 million records. Google doesn’t specify how often it is updated but some say it is updated on a monthly basis. 

Citations to some specific types of outputs, for example, books, book chapters, working papers are likely to be much better in Google than WoS or Scopus which don’t provide good coverage for those. This may be very important to be aware of for academics working in subject fields in which monographs occupy a prominent place.

The downside is that some voice concerns over its lack of differentiating citations that may not originate from peer-reviewed literature as it picks up broader types of publications. Also, it seems that Google Scholar may not pick up citations from older content or give them less weight than more recent ones. 

To date, Google Scholar is by far the most frequently used academic search engine, but it is not the only one. Microsoft Academic which was relaunched in 2015 seems to be its closest competitor. There is also Semantic Scholar which is a free tool (built at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence) which applies artificial intelligence to extract the meaning from the scientific literature. Since October 2019, it searches publications from social sciences.

Publish or Perish is a free and downloadable software developed by (Professor Anne-Wil Harzing) that retrieves and analyse Google Scholar’s data.

Dimensions (Digital Science)

This relatively new database links research publications to grants, patents, and clinical trials. LSE doesn’t subscribe to ‘Dimensions Plus’ but the free version of the database offers access to more than 100 million publications, with information on linked grants, patents, and clinical trials.  This version of the database also includes researcher profiles (currently in beta) and includes citation-based and article-level altmetric data. 

For further information, visit Dimensions’ resource page.

Research Analytics tools 

SciVal (Elsevier)

Additionally, LSE provides access to SciVal (registered users only) which is a bibliometric tool that uses Scopus data to analyse the research performance of individuals or groups.

SciVal can:

  • give an overview of the research performance of an institution and others based on output, impact, and collaborations
  • benchmark determine strengths and weaknesses. Compare any research institution and teams to others based on performance indicators. 
  • identify and analyse existing and potential collaboration opportunities. 

Access SciVal

Please contact the Library Research Information Analyst to get access or more information about this tool.

Services for faculty and students

We offer advice, support and training on the tools available to gather data related to citation analysis.

Please contact the Library Research Information Analyst to discuss your needs.

For example, we can help you answer questions such as:

  • How many citations have my publications received? By whom?
  • How do I find out which journals are in the top quartile for my field?
  • What is the expected citation rate for papers in my subject field?
  • How your department or centre compares to selected peer institutions in one or more subject categories?
  • What is the percentage of documents appearing in the top 1%, 10%, 25% citation percentile?
  • Which institutions does your department/centre collaborate with overseas?

Further resources

There are a number of resources that can teach you more about bibliometrics. Here are a few of our favourites: