Skip to Main Content

Boatwright Memorial Library

Why are Citing References / Times Cited Important?

Why are references citing an article important to your research?

They are useful for finding current articles on a topic. 
The references at the end of a research article have been used by the author to support his research – they are necessarily older than the article.  Articles citing that research bring the research forward in time - they are younger than the original article.

They help identify the top researchers in a field.
They may reveal not only the authors but which institutions and labs have been the most cited for research.

They may be used to gauge the influence of scholarly authors, articles, and journals.
Citing references may reveal how useful research has been to the academic community, affecting tenure decisions and funding decisions.

Tips for Using Citation Linking

Some tips for using citation linking:

Journal Coverage – If a journal that cited your article is not indexed by the database, that citation will not appear.  Check to see which databases index journals that cover your topic.  You may need to try multiple databases for cross-disciplinary fields.

Publication Date – Your journal article may have been published too recently for other authors to cite the work.  Although many scientific articles are published quickly, there is still a significant peer-review and publishing lag time.

Author Name Permutations – Search as many variables as possible.

Primary & Secondary Authors – Some databases index only the first author.  If you are searching for articles citing a particular author, you may need to identify the first author(s) for some articles.

Database Inaccuracies – Citation databases are often minimally edited.  Be aware of inconsistencies in spelling, years, and volume numbers.

What is Citation Linking & Times Cited References?

Thousands of articles are published in research journals every year.  You may search for articles in your research area by subject searching – using databases or indexes to find articles on your topic through keyword or subject term searching. 

Or …  When you have identified an article that is especially relevant to your research, you may search for articles whose authors have cited that particular article.  These citations provide a very close subject link  I.e. An author only cites another article if the research is closely related.  For example, using the Web of Science Core Collection, the article

                “Polarization of the pyridine ring: highly functionalized piperidines from tungsten-pyridine complex” in Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2010, 132 (48) pp 17282-17295

contains 34 references (the bibliography) to older articles (cited references) but had also been cited 22 times (times cited) by August 2018.  These 22 citations were published after 2010 -- pulling the subject-related citations forward in time.

      Cited references (older than 2010) = 34
      Times cited (more recent than 2010) = 22

Citation Indexes

A citation index is an index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which later documents cite which earlier documents. 

In 1960, Eugene Garfield's Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) introduced the first citation index for papers published in academic journals, starting with the Science Citation Index (SCI), and later expanding to produce the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI).  The three citation indexes are now available electronically as Web of Science.  The importance of citation indexing is now recognized by the humanities and social sciences as well as the life and physical sciences and more and more databases have begun citation linking.

Electronic sources for citation searching in the sciences available at UR include:

Citation Analysis or Bibliometrics

While citation indexes were originally designed for information retrieval purposes, they are increasingly used for bibliometrics and other studies involving research evaluation. Citation data is also the basis of the popular journal impact factor.

Journal ranking is widely used in academic circles in the evaluation of an academic journal's impact and quality. Journal rankings are intended to reflect the place of a journal within its field, the relative difficulty of being published in that journal, and the prestige associated with it.

The impact factor (IF) is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science journals. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field.  The higher the IF, the more important a journal is believed to be.  The impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Science Citation Index, now electronically available as the Web of Science.  Impact factors are calculated yearly for those journals that are indexed in the Web of Science and appear in the Journal Citation Reports.

In a given year, the IF of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years.  The 2010 IF of a journal would be calculated as:

A = the number of times articles published in 2008 and 2009 were cited by indexed journals during 2010

B = the total number of "Citable items" published by that journal in 2008 and 2009 
(not editorials or letters-to-the-editor)


     __        = the 2010 impact factor




(Note that 2010 impact factors are actually published in 2011; they cannot be calculated until all of the 2010 citations have been processed by the indexing agency).