Using Google Scholar for citation counting and linking

January 23rd, 2006

We noticed a Jose Vidal using a great idea on his publication list which we’ve added to the ebiquity site’s publication page. Jose augments his paper descriptions with data from Google Scholar (GS) — a link to the GS data, the number of citing papers, and a list of their GS data.

We think GS is likely to be increasingly important in the academic/scholarly community. It’s a way to find papers, of course, but also helps judge their significance to the field as measured by the number of citations. Citation counting is the traditional way of measuring the impact of a paper. Using Google Scholar’s citations to measure impact has its problems, a topic we’ve posted on before and is also discussed in the bibliometric circles, but it’s free and convenient, a combination that’s hard to beat. (Writing this, I wonder if anyone has tried a recursive model like that used in pagerank to citation graphs. If not, this would be an interesting experiment to do).

Here’s how our paper listings now works. We augmented the RGB paper ontology to give the paper class a new metadata property, googleKey, that is then used to derive the other properties — the number of citations and links to the GS description and the list of citing papers. Right now getting the GS Key is done manually since automating it reliably is not trivial. But we do have a link on the paper display that makes it easier to find the key by querying GS with the paper title and showing the results. If the paper is in GS, it will probably be on the first page.

Every night, an agent (well, ok, a cron job) checks Google Scholar to update the citation counts for all of the papers that have a GS key.

Our lab members tend to enter papers into the site’s database as soon as they are accepted for publication, which is long before they show up in Google Scholar and even longer before they begin to accrue citations. So authors will have to periodically check recently entered papers and update them with their GS keys when available. It will take some weeks or more before we’ve processed all of the old papers to look up their GS Key. Once we’ve done so, I think it should be easy to maintain it.