Bibliometrics and Impact Factor: Retrieving Citation Counts

This guide explains how impact factor is used and calculated in journal and article rankings, as well as other methods of citation analysis.

Citation Counts

Citation counts measure the impact of a publication or author by counting the number of times either is cited by other works. Although this sounds simple, it is complicated by the fact that there is no single citation analysis source that covers all publications and their cited references. These pages introduce the sources available to the University of Utah community for creating citation counts and explains their coverage and method of searching.

Any database with citations could create citation counts. Each vendor that offers a citation count primarily uses its own unique data, journals, authority files, indexes, and subject categories.

There is currently no overarching tool across vendors.



Many database publishers have created tutorials to help you make better use of databases. The tutorials linked below focus on citation research.

ISI Web of Knowledge has a number of tutorials available in different languages on their Training web page at Below are links to several of these tutorials directly related to citation research and analysis.

Journal Citation Reports click-through tutorial

ISI Web of Knowledge/Web of Science Citation Alerting (4:17 minutes)

Web of Science Cited Reference Searching (6:49 minutes)

CSA Illumina has several tutorials and other training resources available through the database or at To access these from the database, click on Help & Support on the right side near the top of the page.

Alerts (open Search Tools on the left to view the Alerts section)

Cited Reference Linking (open Search Results on the left to view)


EBSCOhost has a variety of tutorlals available on their site at

While most of the EBSCO tutorials cover many aspects of searching the databases, Cited Reference searching help is here as a document to download. 


ScienceDirect has Interactive Tutorials available at

Using Alerts includes instructions for setting up Search, Topic, Volume/Issue, and Citation Alerts. Citations alerts is toward the end of this tutorial.


SciFinder Scholar's Support & Training website at links to different types of tutorials. How to Guides are geared to the beginning user and SciFinder Strategies are for more advanced users.

See Identify Related Citations for citation research help.


The retrieving citation counts pages were created with the assistance of Jessica Smith, MLIS Intern, Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh 2010-12 and include content adapted with permission from Linda Shackle, librarian at Arizona State University.

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