Q: How do I get back my citation credit in Google Scholar?

Detailed Question -

One of my articles indexed by Google Scholar was cited by someone else in the year of 2016. The credit for the citation was recorded correctly in my Google Scholar account. However, in August 2019, I figured out that the recorded citation was gone. When I checked the article that had cited mine, it was still there under a reputed electronic journal.

1 Answer to this question

There are several possibilities why this could have happened – on the side of the other article or journal, on the side of Google Scholar, or on your side.

Other article or journal: There may have been some changes to the other article or to the journal (site) in these three years. The author(s) of that article may have made some changes to the formatting or the references/ citations section of the article. For instance, they may have changed the way they write your name or the title of your paper. They may even have removed your reference from your paper. If the journal is not open access, you may not be able to check this without making a payment. Also, if the journal was open access earlier but is paywalled now, Google Scholar will not be able to access it any longer. So too if the journal site now has a protocol excluding search robots.

Google Scholar: Apart from restricted or blocked access, Google Scholar does not check articles on sites with any form of conditional access, such as a registration (log-in) or a subscription. Also, any updates to the other article or site will reflect in Google Scholar much later, with a lag time of about 9 months or even a year. So, in your case, the change in the other article or site may have happened much earlier, but you came to know of it only last month. You could create an alert to be informed of updates, in case you haven’t already. Finally, if the other author has modified the way they have written your name or the title of the paper, Google Scholar may not read it the same way as earlier, and so, may have dropped the citation.

Your side: From what you have written, I gather you have not made any changes to your article after publication. Although this is not likely to be the case, you could try checking with the journal where you published your paper whether they made any changes to the formatting, name (yours), and title of the paper. If so, this may have caused a broken link to your paper in the other paper, causing Google Scholar to not read and therefore drop the citation.

As you can see, there are many dependencies for a citation, and not many of these are in your control. Also, Google Scholar’s system, like any other system, may not always be accurate. However, as the process of citations is based around an author’s name, here are a couple of related tips for the future.

  • In the paper, ensure that your name is written in as unique or distinctive a way as possible. When Google Scholar comes across papers written by people with similar names, it assumes duplication and includes only one name, causing a missed or omitted citation for the other paper/author. You could, for instance, try including a middle name.
  • In case of multiple-author papers where you are not the first author, search for these papers in Google Scholar and add them to your list of papers.
  • Create a Kudos account. This is a site that tracks your article's performance metrics and heps increase outreach. 

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