20 Tips to Increase Citation Count & Impact Factor of Research Papers
For the scientists and other academics who publish their research as papers in scholarly journals, citations count, and not just as a measure of intellectual influence. High citation counts can contribute to employment, promotion, funding, speaking, collaboration and publication opportunities, so the desire to improve citation counts for each and every paper is virtually universal among researchers. The following tips for increasing citation counts focus on publishing research worth citing and ensuring that it (and its author) can be found by interested researchers and other readers.
1. Write high-quality papers about sound research that is useful, novel and interesting. Papers worth citing describe troubling problems, outline innovative methods, report groundbreaking results and share new ideas. Excellent work is essential for high citation counts and is always the best place to start, while sustained excellence throughout a career will result in a body of accomplished and frequently cited scholarship.
2. Write in a citeable way. Prose that is unclear, disorganised and riddled with grammatical errors will not communicate effectively or inspire citation, but writing that is correct, precise and logical will convey intellectual authority, compelling arguments and memorable conclusions – qualities that encourage citation. Remember that your abstract should be particularly clear and concise to ensure accurate indexing and immediate reader comprehension.
3. Research and write about topics that are currently of serious concern. Problems desperately in need of resolution or issues that are being hotly debated have a large audience eager to read (and possibly cite) new material on the topic. Research that is particularly useful or necessary to future research and progress in such an area tends to be especially well cited.
4. Establish a relationship between your research and fundamental questions in your field. Although the biggest questions usually cannot be addressed within the confines of a short paper, clarifying how your research is connected with one or more of the expansive questions in your area of specialisation can increase interest and citations.
5. Cite your own earlier publications, but only when they are truly relevant to the new paper. Self-citation solely for the purpose of increasing your citation counts is unethical and will likely be detected by journal editors and peer reviewers.
6. Cite your peers and include as many references in your paper as possible. Citations breed reverse citations, perhaps due to courtesy and gratitude as much as the relevance and quality of the work cited, and the longer the list of references, the higher the number of citations. Longer articles in general tend to garner more citations than shorter ones.
7. Avoid questions in your titles, but do use colons (:). Strange though it may seem, papers with titles that have an interrogative format are cited less often than papers with declarative titles, whereas papers that use colons in their titles are cited more often.
8. Write a review article covering the research literature in your area of expertise. Review articles tend to be highly cited, and the best review articles establish their authors as experts with intellectual influence in their fields.
9. Collaborate with other researchers and co-author your papers with them. Collaborative research and co-authored papers are cited more often than solitary research and writing are. International collaborations are especially useful for increasing citation counts, as are papers co-authored with prestigious and influential scholars.
10. Publish your work in peer-reviewed journals that are widely read and respected by researchers in your field. Top-tier journals with high impact factors may seem tempting, but a refereed journal with a decent impact factor that is adequately indexed and reaches the precise audience you anticipate for a paper will usually earn the most citations. Special issues of journals are often particularly well read and cited.
11. Send your paper to a second journal if it is rejected by your first choice. There is some evidence that papers published after initial rejection by the author’s first choice of journal earn more citations than do papers that are accepted by that first journal. Whatever the reasons for this fascinating fact may be, it is certainly encouraging
12. Make your research papers freely available to online audiences. Publish in open access journals whenever possible, upload your papers to your university’s repository, share your preprints and key parts of your papers on Academia or ResearchGate, and set up a personal or research group website for disseminating your work.
13. Use the exact same name for all your scholarly publications. If your name is a common one, consider adding a middle initial or middle name to make it more distinctive so that your publications will not be confused with those of another scholar.
14. Use key words and phrases effectively in each paper and its metadata. Choose words and phrases you would use to search for papers like your own and be sure to repeat them as often as the journal allows in all the parts of your paper (title, abstract and headings, for instance) usually searched by abstracting and indexing services.
15. Ensure that the bibliographical and other information about your papers on journal websites and in the scholarly databases commonly used in your field is thorough and accurate. When you cite yourself, be careful not to introduce errors that may prevent or confuse tracking and indexing.
16. Give conference presentations about your research, offer guest lectures and contribute to workshops and seminars, encouraging discussion with your audience in each case. Be sure to have copies of your papers ready to share with participants and attendees who may be interested in reading and ideally citing your work.
17. Send copies of your published papers to researchers working in your area who may be interested in the advances you have made. These individuals need not be big names or pioneers in the field, but their citations of your papers will be especially important if they are.
18. Write about your research online. Blogging about the journal article you have just published is an excellent way of promoting your publication by telling people about your research and its importance. You may want to start your own blog and earn new readers or do guest blogs on established sites that already have enthusiastic readers. Remember that such writing should usually address and engage a general audience.
19. Make good use of social media for promoting your research papers. The news that your latest paper has just been accepted for publication in an excellent scientific journal might be announced in a tweet, while the link to the final article once it is published could be shared in a Facebook post. You never know where your next citation will originate.
20. Set up professional profiles. Your university or research institution’s website is an obvious place for this, but a profile on Academia or LinkedIn that includes a list of publications can also lead readers to your papers. A profile can also help you manage the way in which you and your publications are listed, with a Google Scholar profile being an excellent example.
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If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.