Skip to Main Content Page Title
Library logo

Library Research Support: Improving the Citedness of your Research

Support for Research Staff & Research Students

Overview - Improving the Citedness of your Research

These pages provide some tips and guidance from publishers, journals, authors and others around key activities which can help to improve the visibility and therefore the citedness of your research. These include:

  • Increasing the visibility of your published research in search engines and academic databases.
  • Removing barriers to access, including the reading and indexing of the full text of your research.
  • Key factors to increasing the visibility of your research and profile.

Guidance from Academic Publishers

Guidance from Publishers: Increasing the Visibility of Research
Publisher Guidance: Wiley
Publisher Guidance: Sage
Publisher Guidance: SpringerNature
Publisher Guidance: Elsevier
Publisher Guidance: Taylor & Francis

Journal Selection

Selecting a journal

Selecting the most appropriate journal, which will reach the broadest and most appropriate audience for your research is essential to ensuring the maximum potential for citation of your published research.

Academics will have differing views as to how to best select the most appropriate journal, but here we have collected some suggestions of things to consider.

For further information and guidance, see our Where to Publish guide for authors.


Journal Rankings

Responsible Metrics: Durham is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and has a policy on the responsible use of metrics, including the use of journal-level metrics and rankings. See our Responsible Metrics and Overview of Bibliometric Research Indicators guides for further information.

Are any journal level metrics considered important in your field of study? Does your department indicate any expectations as to particular "high impact" or "high prestige" journals? Is publication in any particular journal considered important for your career progression?

There are several ranking systems for journals, including:

If someone tells you a particular journal is the "best" journal to publish in, it may also be worth asking why they consider it the "best" journal and to consider if that aligns with your own priorities.

How easily are articles in the journal discovered by potential readers?

Is the journal discoverable via search engines such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic (i.e. is the whole journal open to be indexed by these services, or can you only find some articles if they are also available from author's profile pages and open access repositories.

Is the journal indexed via any key academic databases (e.g. Web of ScienceScopus, discipline specific databases such as Business SourceASSIAHistorical AbstractsPsycInfo)?

For further information and guidance, see our Where to Publish guide for authors.


What have you cited?

Look at the published works you have cited; if you have cited a number of articles in a small number of journal titles, then it is likely you are aiming to reach a similar audience. Perhaps one of these journals may be the best journal to publish in to reach the most appropriate audience, who are most likely to read, apply and cite your research?

It may make little sense, for example, to publish in a "high impact" journal, when a journal better suited to your specific topic of research may better reach the desired audience. A "high impact" journal usually refers to a journal with a high "average number of citations per article" metric - but many of these see a highly skewed level of citation, with some articles in high impact journals receiving a very small number of citations, or none at all.

Titles and Abstracts

Optimising Discoverability: Titles and Abstracts

The title and abstract you select for your article can have two immediate affects on the discoverability of your research, and thus the potential for your work to be found, read and cited.

  • Discoverability: They can affect where it appears in results lists in search engines and academic databases, based on key words others may use to search for research on that topic and the keywords and structure used to aid Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
  • Relevance scoping: It will often be the first (and sometimes only) part of the article a potential reader looks at in order to make a decision as to whether they will read the rest of the article. The abstract will often be used by a researcher to assess if the publication is of interest and relevance to their research question, and thus how (and if) to read further, and potentially cite the work.

Text-mining and data-mining: Increasingly in many disciplines, the text- and data-mining of large amounts of published content are increasingly used as primary means of discovery and synthesis of research literature. Ensuring the structure of titles and abstracts are also optimised for automated discovery and interpretation are therefore also key considerations.

Optimising your title for discoverability

Publisher's often offer guidance on structure, length and format of titles. Some simple key tips to consider might include:-

Optimising your abstract

An abstract should therefore aim to be a fully self-contained description of the publication in itself, to entice the reader to read further, but not to require them to do so to understand anything contained within the abstract. It should:

  • Provide potential readers enough information to quickly assess its relevance and usefulness
  • Clearly and concisely describe the research question, methodology and conclusion where appropriate.
  • Repeat keywords and phrases describing the research topic to increase the chance of retrieval by search engines, and leap out from a results list to potential readers.
  • Recognise that not all citations require a citing author to have read your whole publication (although it would be hoped they have read more than the abstract).
  • Achieve all of this within any restrictions set by a publisher: publishers will often restrict your abstract to a word count of around 200-300 words.

You should also remember that, unless the article is open access, the abstract and title may be only parts of the article a potential reader can read, and make any assessment as to whether accessing the full text is worth the extra effort (tracking down an original author) or financial cost (paying to view or download the full text).

Further Reading

See some of the studies and guidance below for further information around abstract length and keyword frequency:

  • "abstract length significantly associates with increased citation impact" (Didegah and Thelwall, 2013)
  • "shorter abstracts ... consistently lead to fewer citations, with short sentences being beneficial only in Mathematics and Physics" (Weinberger, Evans & Allesina, 2015)
  • "abstract ratio is a significant predictor of citation count i.e. researchers can boost citations by repeated keywords in the abstract ... From the technical point of view, a phrase repetition in an abstract increases the chance of retrieval in a search engine" (Sohrabi and Iraj, 2017)
  • "journals which publish papers whose abstracts are shorter and contain more frequently used words receive slightly more citations per paper" (Letchford, Preis & Moat, 2015)
  • "Like human readers, text-mining systems use the surrounding context to help resolve ambiguous words and phrases ... Current automated methods for context association are more accurate when the related information is within the same sentence or, at most, within the same paragraph." (Leaman,. Wei, Allott & Lu, 2020)
  • "The longer the article abstract, the more citations and tweets. One reason explaining why an article with a longer abstract may have more citations and social media mentions is that an extensive abstract is a more complete representation of a paper, providing citers and tweeters with more details and enabling them to make a decision about the usefulness of the work" (Didegah, Bowman and Holmberg, 2018)
  • "Clearly use key phrases in the abstract ... ensure the abstract is readable for the intended audience" Wiley-Blackwell Publisher Guidelines

Author Affiliations & Profiles

Author Affiliation

Make sure that you, and your university and department, receive appropriate credit and attribution for your publications. It is not uncommon for publications to be incorrectly attributed to the wrong author or institution based on incorrect or ambiguous author information included in the original article.

  • Use a consistent form for you name, and consider carefully the implications of how any change of name (such as through marriage) will impact on the ability of readers and automated systems to correctly identify your publications output.
  • Consider registering for an ORCiD or ResearcherID.
  • Make sure you correctly list your author affiliation, in accordance with Durham University Author Affiliation Policy guidance.

Ensuring your university affiliation is included on your papers is particularly important for ensuring your research output is correctly identified and included in citation metric components used in University Rankings such as the QS World Rankings.

Author Identifiers: Quick Comparison

Author Identifiers can uniquely identify you and link your research activity to you, increasing the visibility of your research (and potential to attract citations) in addition to other benefits (such as reducing data entry by providing options for seemless data transfer between systems).

The guide below offers a quick overview and comparison of the four most widely used author IDs, whilst the following videos on the page show to create or maintain your ORCID, Google Scholar, Publons or Scopus Author ID.

Comparison of Author Profiles (Scopus, Publons, ORCID, Google Scholar)

Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID)

ORCID can help ensure all of your research output is correctly linked to you, and easily identifiable and discoverable by publisher, funder and organisational systems. It allows many services (such as Scopus) to allow someone who finds one of your publications to quickly find all of your other outputs. Registering for an ORCID only takes 5 minutes. See our ORCID FAQs for further information.

Scopus Author ID

Scopus is a bibliographic and citation database, indexing over 19,000 journals, conference proceedings, monographs and book chapters. If you have published an article in any of the titles it indexes, you will likely have a Scopus Author Profile; it is well worth being aware of how to claim and correct these automatically generated profiles, which can support readers who find one of your articles in identifying, accessing and reading your other research output.


Publons previously allowed authors to showcase their peer review and editorial contributions, but since being purchased by Clarivate Analytics and integrated with ResearcherID and Web of Science, it now also allows authors to link their publication activity as well. It works similarly to Scopus Author Profiles.

Google Scholar Profiles

Google Scholar is the go-to search engine for many academics and students. Having a Profile on Google Scholar not only increases the visibility of your research output (by altering your name in the author credits into a hyperlink to your profile and other publications) but also allows you to track citations to your work identified in Google Scholar.

Example Google Scholar Profile listed in Google Scholar Search Results

Open Access and Social Media

Open Access 

[See our Open Research Guide here]

Open access can increase the accessibilitydiscoverability, and visibility of a research output. It enables researchers to more easily share their work and promote it effectively via online media (as anyone with an internet connection is able to link through to the full text, and won't face a paywall barrier if they don't have subscription access).

Open access publishing can result in increased accessibility because:

  • Most academic outputs are supplied by publishers, and locked behind a subscription or pay-to-view barrier for most readers. Open Access removes that barrier, making it is easier to obtainread and re-use an open access article
    • Open Access often makes use of standard re-use licences, such as Creative Commons, making it clearer for other researchers how and when they can (or cannot) re-use the content of the article (e.g. text- or data-mining, providing a translation or alternative format, use in teaching and learning activity.
  • The output is more visible and discoverable because it is available from a number of different sources – not just the publisher’s website.
    • Manuscripts in open access repositories are indexed by Google Scholar and other search engines
    • Tools like Unpaywall and OA Button will allow a reader to seamlessly identify and link to an open access version of an article at the point they hit a paywall barrier, without having to search for multiple repositories themselves.

Whether publishing your research open access provides a citation advantage is something that is up for debate, however – with some strong opinions on either side of the argument.

Open Access and Social Media

Ensuring your output is free from subscription or paywall barriers to access can make it easier to access once someone has discovered it. Use of Social Media, alongside more traditional scholarly networks (conferences, sharing your e-prints with colleagues), can help increase the visibility of your recent articles, link them into current online narratives and conversations, and directly target likely readers and users of the research.

See our "Social Media Guidance for Researchers" Guide. This covers:

  • Twitter Tips for Researchers
  • Scholarly Collaboration Networks: LinkedIN, ResearchGate,
  • Social Media for Researchers: Reports, Surveys & OA Research 2010-2020
  • Social Media for Researchers: Resources in the Library
  • Marketing and Communications: Using Social Media Toolkit

undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined