BIBLIOMETRIC DATA is becoming
ever more important in academia.
Along with impact factors of academic
journals, one of the most important biblio-
metric indicators is citation counts. These
are increasingly being used in a number of
contexts including internal assessment (e.g.
going for a job promotion) and external
assessments (e.g. use in the Research Excel-
lence Framework as a proxy measure of
quality and impact).
In March 2015 I passed 20,000 citations
on Google Scholar and this is good evidence
that what I do day-to-day works. I have an
h-index of 78 (i.e. at least 78 of my papers
have been cited 78 times) and an i100 index
of 268 (i.e. a least 268 of my papers have
been cited 10 times).
Citation counts take years to accumulate
but you can help boost your citations in a
number of different ways. Here are my tips
and strategies that I personally use and that
I know work. It probably goes without saying
that the more you write and publish, the
greater the number of citations. However,
here are my top ten tips, based on a number
of review papers on the topic (e.g. Born-
mann & Daniel, 2008; Ebrahim, 2012;
Ebrahim et al., 2013, 2014):
1. Choose your paper’s keywords carefully.
In an age of search engines and academic
database searching, keywords in your
publications are critical. Key words and
phrases in the paper’s title and abstract
are also useful for search purposes.
2. Use the same name on all your papers and
use ORCiD. I wish someone had told me
at the start of my career that name initials
were important. I had no idea that there
were so many academics called ‘Mark
Griffiths’. Adding my middle initial, ‘D’,
has helped a lot. You can also use an
ORCiD or ResearcherID and link it to
4. Disseminate and promote your research
wherever you can. I find that many British
academics do not like to publicise their
work, but ever since I was a PhD student
I have promoted my work in as many
different placesas possible, including
conferences, seminars, workshops and the
mass media. More recently, I have used
social media excessively (such as tweeting
links to papers I’ve just published). I also
write media releases for work that I think
will have mass appeal and work with
my university’s press office to ensure
dissemination is as wide as possible. I also
actively promote my work in other ways,
including personal dissemination (e.g.
my blogs), as well as sending copies
of papers to key people in my field in
addition to interested stakeholder groups
(policymakers, gaming industry, treatment
providers, etc.). I have a high profile web
presence via my many websites.
5. Cite your previously published papers. Self-
citation is often viewed quite negatively by
some academics but it is absolutely fine to
cite your own work where relevant on a
new manuscript. Citing my own work has
never hurt my academic career.
6. Publish in journals that you know others
in your field read. Although many
academics aim to get in the highest
impact factor journal that they can, this
doesn’t always lead to the highest number
of citations. For instance, when I submit a
gambling paper I often submit to the
Journal of Gambling Studies (impact
Issue 96 September 2015 23
Hints and tips:
How to improve your citation count
factor = 1.8). This is because gambling is a
very interdisciplinary field and many of
my colleagues (who work in disparate
disciplines – law, criminology, social
policy, economics, sociology, etc.) don’t
read psychology journals. Some of my
highest cited papers have been in
7. Try to publish in open access journals.
Research has consistently shown that open
access papers get higher citation rates than
non-open access papers (MacCallum &
Parthasarathy, 2006; Swan, 2010).
8. Write review papers. Although I publish
lots of empirical papers, I learned very early
on in my academic career that review
papers are more likely to be cited. I often
try to write the first review papers in
particular areas as everyone then has to cite
them! Some types of output (especially
those that don’t have an abstract) are
usually poorly cited (e.g. editorials, letters
9. Submit to special issues of journals.
Submitting a paper to a special issue of a
journal increases the likelihood that
others in your field will read it (as it will
have more visibility). Papers won’t be
cited if they are not read in the first place!
10. Publish collaboratively, and where
possible with international teams. Again,
research has consistently shown that
working with others collaboratively (i.e.
team-authored papers) and in an
international context has been shown to
significantly increase citation counts.
Finally, here are a few more nuggets of infor-
mation that you should know when thinking
about how to improve your citation counts.
■There is a correlation between number of
citations and the impact factor of the
journal (Vanclay, 2013), but if you work in
an interdisciplinary field like me, more
specialist journals may lead to higher
■The size of the paper and reference list
correlates with citation counts (Corbyn,
2010) (although this may be connected
with review papers as they are generally
longer and get more cited than non-
review papers (Vanclay, 2013)).
■Publish with ‘big names’ in the field (Ball,
2011). Publishing with the pioneers in
your field will lead to more citations.
■Get your work on Wikipedia pages.
References cited by Wikipedia pages get
cited more (Marashi et al., 2013). In fact,
write Wikipedia pages for topics in your
areas of expertise.
■Somewhat bizarrely (but true) papers that
ask a question in the title have lower
citation rates (Jamali & Nikzad, 2011).
Titles that have colons in the title have
higher citation rates.
Professor Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent
Ball, P. (2011). Are scientific reputations boosted artificially?
Nature, 6 May. Retrieved 27 April 2015 from
Bornmann, L. & Daniel, H.D. (2008). What do citation
counts measure? A review of studies on citing behavior.
Journal of Documentation, 64(1), 45–80.
Corbyn, Z. (2010). An easy way to boost a paper’s citations.
Nature, 13 August. Retrieved 27 April 2015 from
Ebrahim. N.A. (2012). Publication marketing tools – Enhancing
research visibility and improving citations. University of
Malaya. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Retrieved from
Ebrahim, N., Salehi, H., Embi, M.A., Habibi, F., Gholizadeh,
H., Motahar, S.M. & Ordi, A. (2013). Effective strategies
for increasing citation frequency. International Education
Studies, 6(11), 93–99.
Ebrahim, N.A., Salehi, H., Embi, M.A., Habibi, F.,
Gholizadeh, H. & Motahar, S.M. (2014). Visibility and
citation impact. International Education Studies, 7(4),
Jamali, H.R. & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its
relation with the number of downloads and citations.
Scientometrics, 88(2), 653–661.
Marashi, S-A., Amin, H-N., Alishah, K., Hadi, M., Karimi, A.,
& Hosseinian, S. (2013). Impact of Wikipedia on cita-
tion trends. EXCLI Journal, 12, 15–19.
MacCallum, C.J. & Parthasarathy, H. (2006). Open access
increases citation rate. PLoS Biology, 4(5), e176. Retreived
Swan, Alma (2010) The open access citation advantage:
Studies and results to date. Retrieved 27 April 2015 from
Vanclay, J. K. (2013). Factors affecting citation rates in envi-
ronmental science. Journal of Informetrics, 7(2), 265–271.
van Wesel, M., Wyatt, S. & ten Haaf, J. (2014). What a differ-
ence a colon makes: How superficial factors influence
subsequent citation. Scientometrics, 98(3), 1601–1615.
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