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Increase your citations

Citations remain an important, if sometimes controversial, metric for researchers. The tips and advice found across the Promote Your Research website can help ensure other researchers find, use and cite your outputs. This page consolidates our advice on how to increase your citations and make a difference in your field. Expand the sections below to learn more.

Target appropriate journals that are read and respected by everyone in your discipline. You might want to take a look at your own reference list and identify journals that commonly appear.

14% of UCD’s research outputs between 2016 and 2020 were uncited. Publishing in the right place is an important way of mitigating this risk.

It is also worth noting that a study covering (opens in a new window)923 scientific journals found that resubmissions were cited significantly more than first intents, largely due to input from editors and reviewers, and the greater amount of time spent working on resubmissions. This significantly improved the citation impact of the final product.

Papers with zero citations negatively affect metrics like Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) and university rankings (citation score). So carefully consider the reasons for publishing a paper if other researchers are unlikely to cite it, and be extra careful with conferences that are captured by Scopus but have low return in citations.

In theory, UCD could increase its FWCI by 17% by not publishing research outputs that receive zero citations:


Total outputs (2016 to 2020)

Total citations FWCI
UCD's research output 19,090 341,914 1.73

UCD's research output (with zero cited outputs removed)

16,363 341,914 2.02
Change -2,727 0.00 +16.7%

Where appropriate for your discipline, publish in open access journals (ensuring they are indexed by Scopus or Web of Science). By making your outputs freely available, you can increase their reach and impact. For more information, read our section on open access or take a look at this (opens in a new window)guide from UCD Library. As well as publishing in traditional subscription journals, you can also deposit a copy of your articles in an open access or institutional repository, like (opens in a new window)Research Repository UCD.

In 2001, Steve Lawrence published a (opens in a new window)hugely influential study which showed that open access conference papers in computer science were cited more than twice as often as papers that were not freely accessible online. More recently, (opens in a new window)Policy Labs analysed the results of 58 of the most highly cited studies of the so-called "open access citation advantage". 43 of the 58 studies confirmed the existence of such an advantage. Recent studies provide stronger evidence of an advantage than older ones: 66% of papers published between 2001 and 2015 confirmed the advantage, rising to 82% of papers published between 2016 and 2021.

Looking at UCD papers in Scopus from 2016 to 2020, OA papers were cited 24 times on average, whereas non-OA papers received an average of 10 citations.

If possible, co-author papers with international and industry collaborators, making the outputs visible to a wider audience and likely increasing their citation impact. You might achieve this by extending your existing network, attending international conferences, and participating in large research consortia.

As you can see from the graphs below, international and industry collaboration both correlate strongly with citations (source – Elsevier SciVal, 2016 to 2020):

The benefits from international and industry collaboration on research outputs can be seen at UCD too:

Type of collaboration UCD Field-Weighted Citation Impact 2016 to 2020
Papers with industry collaborators 287% above world average
Papers with EU-funded collaborators 170% above world average
Papers with international collaborators 118% above world average
Papers with national collaborators only 15% above world average
Papers with institutional collaborators only 7% above world average
Papers without collaborators 13% below world average

Open data can (opens in a new window)significantly increase citations. Publicly available datasets are associated with a 69% increase in citations to articles that accompany the data. This correlation is independent of Journal Impact Factor, country of authors, and time since publication.

So, deposit curated open research data to accompany your paper in an appropriate repository for your discipline. For more information, see our section on sharing your data.

Releasing your research on preprint servers before it's published in a peer-reviewed journal has been shown to increase its citations.

A team led by Nicholas Fraser, a bibliometrics researcher at the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Germany, (opens in a new window)recently found that papers that had been submitted to a biology preprint repository (bioRxiv) before being published in a peer-reviewed journal garnered more citations on average than those without preprints. This citations-boosting effect was found to continue for at least three years after journal publication.

UCD does not cite its own recent output as often as many other institutions do. Try to build awareness of relevant work by colleagues, so that you can cite their outputs (both papers and patents) where it is appropriate and justifiable to do so.

In theory, UCD could increase its total citations by 5% if each paper cited an additional colleague's research.

On average, review papers attract twice as many citations as original articles, so consider writing one when appropriate. Review papers may be a natural outcome of a research project, documenting the state of the art.

If UCD were to double the number of review papers that it publishes over a 5-year period, the citation rate could be boosted by up to 10%.

An easy way to boost a paper's citations is to simply add more references, but only when it is justifiable to do so. This can help bring your work to the attention of authors of cited papers, and can increase recognition and citation of your work. Many conferences and journals impose no limit on the number of references.

A long reference list at the end of a research paper may be the key to ensuring that it is well cited, according to (opens in a new window)an analysis of 100 years' worth of papers.

Another easy way to increase the reach of your outputs is to author regular updates of papers that were highly cited in the past.

UCD Research has estimated an increase in total citations of up to 5% by updating such papers.

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