Science - September 24, 2009

How to get cited

Name a researcher, and Wouter Gerritsma can tell you how much he has published recently, in which journals, on which subjects, and how often he has been cited.

Screenshot: the importance of being cited
Gerritsma, who works at Wageningen UR library, keeps track of the bibliographic data of all Wageningen researchers. He also gives tips on how researchers can improve their publication and citation records. Here are his top five tips.

  • Be consistent about the name you use. Many researchers will use their first name on one publication, one initial on the next, and all their initials on a third. This makes it harder for bibliographical systems to recognize them as one and the same person, which can affect their standing and their citation score. Women researchers are well-advised not to use their husband's name. Doing so can make their research history invisible. (Let alone the problems that can be caused if there's a divorce some years down the line.)

  • Mention Wageningen UR. University researchers should mention the name of their chair group and Wageningen UR. DLO researchers should name their institute and also Wageningen UR, in full. Do not mention your department or expertise centre. If you do, you run the risk of being untraceable in the citations database.

  • Don't spread your data too thinly. It's better to produce one substantial article in a prominent journal that ten articles in more obscure journals. That one article will push your citation score up above the global average.

  • Consider publishing in open access journals, or make preprints available in electronic databases such as Wageningen Yield. Fellow-researchers, in developing countries especially, use open access journals more than subscription journals such as Nature or Science. It's even smarter to mix and match. For example, Marten Scheffer is editor of a peer-reviewed open access journal, but he publishes his top articles in Nature too. Another option for increasing your visibility: make use of Wikipedia and blogs and draw attention to your own publications.

  • Make sure you get in first. The first article in a new research field is usually more cited than the best article. If you have a real discovery to report, you are better off getting published quickly in a more minor journal than waiting ages for an evaluation for a top journal.


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