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Tracking Citations to Articles

This guide explains how to use different methods to find and track citations to articles and other works.


One scholar draws on, responds to, or critiques earlier scholars' positions and ideas. Writers cite the earlier works to show readers exactly what they're using. The chains of citations form a web. In law, the web extends from academic literature to the law itself when judges cite scholarship as persuasive authority.

Researchers care about this web of sources for different purposes, e.g.:

  • If Article A is relevant to my work, then articles that cite Article A might be relevant as well.
  • Works that cite Article A will help me understand the article and the strengths and weaknesses of the author's arguments.
  • Finding out what sources cite Scholar S's work will give me a sense of how influential S is.

Different tools give you different pieces of the picture. There is no one tool that quickly and efficiently tells you everything that cites a given work. For instance, one tool might give you a good display of U.S. law journals that cite a work, but not journals from other academic disciplines. This guide explains different tools and their strengths and weaknesses.

Studies of Citation Metrics

How to Increase Citations to Your Paper

Bonnie J. Shucha, Representing Law Faculty Scholarly Impact: Strategies for Improving Citation Metrics Accuracy and Promoting Scholarly Visibility, Legal Reference Servs. Q. (pub. online Oct. 7, 2021), [draft available on SSRN], [Taylor & Francis site (full text not available at UW)]

[T]this article suggests strategies to improve the accuracy of citation metrics for legal scholars and promote the visibility of their scholarship. This practical advice will benefit anyone interested in representing the scholarly impact of law faculty to its fullest effect, including legal scholars, law school administrators, and communications departments.

Rob Willey & Melanie Knapp, Hein, U.S. News, and How to Increase Citations, 18 Ohio St. Tech. L.J. (forthcoming winter 2022), [draft available on SSRN]

The authors describe past citation studies and best practices in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The authors find that factors beyond article quality likely impact scholarly citations. Drawing from the lessons in the citation patterns, article characteristics, and SEO best practices, the authors offer techniques to increase the article citation counts of articles published in U.S. law journals.


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