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Researcher's guide to responsible and open science

Citation databases

Citation databases are databases developed to help you evaluate publication activities. You can use them to find out publication and citation numbers, and to view for example which are the most cited articles or journals. Further information: Finnish national guide to publication metrics.

The Universities community has easy-to-use bibliometric databases; Scopus and Web of Science (WoS). They provide information on the number of citations achieved by publications and the possibility to analyse citations. Citation databases cover mainly articles, but they also include books, conference proceedings, and reports. Citations can also be searched from the freely available Google Scholar.

Citation analyses describe, based on the search term:

  • article etc. volumes on an annual level,
  • the most significant sources and authors and their affiliations,
  • whether the publication is an article, conference proceeding, a book, or a chapter, etc.,
  • which field of science the publication represents, and
  • which country publishes about the topic.

The analysis data provided by Scopus and WoS differ from each other because the contents of the databases are different. A special feature of Google Scholar is that it examines publication information available on the open web with a wide scope. As a result, the number of citations indicated by Google Scholar is higher than the data obtained through Scopus and WoS.

Below are links to the citation databases mentioned above (Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar) and their analysis tools (SciVal, InCites, and Publish or Perish). The databases can also be found on the A-Z Databases list.



Analysis tool

  • SciVal
    SciVal is a database and a tool for evaluating and developing research. It allows you to examine the research activities of 8500 research organisations and 220 countries at individual researcher, research group, research unit, or country level. With SciVal, users can analyse data from Elsevier's Scopus citation database from 1996 onwards. You must register and log in to use SciVal.


Web of Science

Web of Science-logo.


Google Scholar

Google scholar-logo.

  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar is a search engine produced by Google that retrieves information from online scientific and academic sources. A special feature of Google Scholar is that it examines publication information available on the open web with a wide scope. Master's theses and doctoral dissertations as well as non-scientific publications will be included in the analysis. As a result, the number of citations indicated by Google Scholar is higher than the data obtained through Scopus and WoS.

Reference database and analysis tool


Researcher's impact figures

A citation database lets you find out the researcher’s:

  • total number of publications in that database,
  • total number of citations received by publications (also without self-citations),
  • average number of citations per publication (WoS only),
  • h-index (Hirsch index). The researcher's h-index can be checked in the Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar citation databases. The h-indexes of databases differ from each other because their contents are different. Each database calculates the h-index based on the publications it contains, which is why a database or application suitable for the specific discipline should be selected when viewing the h-index. More instructions for defining the h-index can be found in the National Guide to Publication Metrics

Below is an example of a researcher's score in different databases:

 H-index of one researcher in different databases, Scopus 19, Web of science 17, Google scholar 35.


  • A single citation database does not contain all of the researcher's publications.
  • A list of publications provides a more accurate search result, but the search takes time. There may be discrepancies in the names of publications between a list of publications and citation databases.
  • Surname search: name changes and different spellings are possible, so try different options with compound names (e.g. Yli-Koski), names containing Scandinavian characters (å, ä, ö), prefix names (van, de, der, etc.), or transliterated names.
  • Information for old publications is sometimes incomplete (only the initial letter of the researcher's first name, no affiliation, etc.).
  • Scopus' automation may incorrectly combine publications by different authors under the same Author ID, or not combine publications by the same author.

Principles and limitations of citation analysis

Principles of citation analysis

  • Citation analysis illustrates the attention received by the publications written by the researcher, i.e. how often other publications included in a particular citation database have cited the publication in question.
  • Citation analysis does not verify the quality of the publication. Publications with multiple citations are often considered to be of high scientific quality, but the number of citations can also indicate a controversial topic.
  • Citation analyses only show citations to publications included in the citation database. If a publication is not included in any citation database, the attention it receives through citations is left obscured.
  • No database covers all publications. Some disciplines are better represented in databases (e.g. medical and natural sciences) than others (e.g. social sciences and humanities).

Limitations of citation analysis

  • The comprehensiveness of citation databases affects how well scientific publications from a discipline are represented in them. Factors affecting the comprehensiveness of citation databases include variations in the coverage of different fields of science, temporal coverage, and coverage of different publication formats.
  • There may be a delay in indexing journals into a database.
  • The scope of the database subscription affects whether it covers e.g. conference papers and books.
  • Citation databases mainly index scientific data in English only.

Other perspectives on impact

Publication impact can also be examined in other ways than by relying on traditional peer-reviewed publications and the citations between them. Here are a few other metrics you can use to examine impact that don't fit the definition of traditional bibliometrics.


Altmetrics (article level metrics / alternative metrics) monitors the visibility of research in social media and elsewhere online, e.g.:

  • How many times the publication is being viewed, downloaded, recommended, or discussed about online.
  • Aims to find answers to what is happening in science right now.
  • Helps identify the attention received by the research.
  • Thus gives an indication of the social, economic, or cultural significance of the article even before the accumulation of citations.

Does your research spark debate?

You can follow the discussion and attention received by your research on social media and other online services by using altmetrics tools. See tweets, mentions on news sites, Mendeley references, blog posts, and more received by your research. Altmetric Explorer and PlumX diagrams can be found in connection with the publication on the public portal of the TUNICRIS-research information system (https://researchportal.tuni.)


Altmetric Explorer

  • An analysis service that presents the online presence of the research/researcher with a donut chart. The altmetrics donut is used in the TUNICRIS research information system.
    • The number in the middle of the donut describes visibility numerically: the higher the value, the more visible the publication is evaluated.
    • The colours of the donut depict the contribution of different online services to the visibility of the publication.
  • It follows the attention the publications receive in news, social media, Wikipedia, etc.
  • Altmetric reaches publications with IDs such as DOI, PubMed ID, ISBN, Handle, arXiv ID, ADS ID, SSRN ID, RePEC ID, URN, URL.
  • The service tracks different sources, identifies publications based on their IDs, and collates the attention received by publications in various sources.
  • By logging in, you can install the free add-on Altmetric it! to see the attention received by individual publications.
  • Check out the background sources for the service.

Altmetric Support.


  • An altmetrics service that highlights the online visibility of the research/researcher. PlumX is used in the TUNICRIS research information system.
    • The PlumX icon uses colours to indicate in which categories the publication has received attention. The service uses five categories.
    • The size of the "branches" indicates the level of visibility for the publication in various online services.
  • Presents the attention received by publications in news, social media, Wikipedia, etc.
  • Reaches publications with IDs such as DOI, PubMed ID, ISBN, Handle, arXiv ID, ADS ID, SSRN ID, RePEC ID, URN, record, URL.
  • Follows different sources, identifies publications based on their ID, and collates the attention that publications receive in various sources.

Learn more about PlumX.

Data metrics

The research data generated during the research process and its use can be analysed with the help of data metrics. Analysis perspectives include, for example:

  • the transparency of research data,
  • usage statistics, or
  • citations to the data.

Advanced data management practices, data access services, making data open access, and the technical solutions supporting the aforementioned are key prerequisites for effectively utilising metrics methods also in the examination of research data.

Source: Finnish national guide to publication metrics – Data metrics

Societal interaction and impact (Overton)

Overton contains information regarding government and think tank publications, working papers, etc. Publications have been collected from thousands of sources from almost all countries of the world. In addition, the database contains information on the citations to scientific publications contained in these publications. The service can be used to search for so-called grey literature, or to investigate how certain scientific publications have been cited in non-scientific publications.

The Universities community has access to Overton database. The service does not require registration, but by registering you can for example save searches and dashboards.

Overton follows among others these Finnish sources: the Finnish Government, the Parliament, the Bank of Finland, Current Care Guidelines, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Guide on the service's website.


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