People say that the impact factor and number citations somehow correlated. However; since 2012, I published 7 articles in well reputed top-10% journal, 5 papers in flagship conferences. Yet my total citations are just 51. On the other hand, one of my friends published his work during same time period (2011–2018) in predatory journals and he has 150 citations. We both work in almost same research area.

Is it a myth that number citations are correlated with impact factor. What if a journal has high impact factor due to some few cited articles published in that journal?

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    This is several questions. You should narrow it down to a particular question, and post or search for other Q&A's for the other matters. – zibadawa timmy Aug 11 '18 at 6:11
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    Well, predatory journals inflate their articles via self-citations. As for IF versus citations, one can manipulated IF value; e.g., by accepting fewer articles and/or accepting survey or generalist type articles, which tend to attract more cites. If your work is highly technical, then probably only a handful of people understand your work. In my area, top specialist journals have an IF of 3-4, and I suspect citations follow a power law relationship, meaning most articles have few cites and a small number of articles attract most of the cites. – Prof. Santa Claus Aug 11 '18 at 7:13
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    High quality publications are always the way to go. They show that you can do high quality work. As for tips on increasing citations, publicize your works more, give tutorials, do seminars, visit other universities and talk about your work, email people in the area to make them aware of your work. If your work is fundamental, then look for other applications in different disciplines/areas. – Prof. Santa Claus Aug 11 '18 at 7:18
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    @MBK: This is not a discussion forum. As a rule of thumb, if you do not expect that the answers to your individual questions considerably overlap, ask them separately. This is the case here: An answer can address the bibliometrics and statistics underlying impact factors without even touching the topic of how you boost your CV. I therefore removed all but your first question. Feel free to ask the other questions separately. – Wrzlprmft Aug 11 '18 at 8:13
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    @Prof.SantaClaus: Please stop answering questions in the comments. – Wrzlprmft Aug 11 '18 at 8:16

First, let's forget the number of citations in the predatory journals, since they are fraudulent trash and no conclusions can be drawn from them.

Let us instead focus on why some work gets well cited and others does not. In order to be cited, a paper needs to be:

  1. noticed by other researchers, and
  2. considered credible by other researchers, and
  3. significant in its contributions, and
  4. relevant enough to the citer’s own work that they have cause to cite it.

Publishing in a top venue helps with #1 and #2, but only sort of helps with #3 and doesn't do a thing for #4. Complementarily, if your work is useful to other researchers and they become aware of it somehow, then they'll happily cite it many times even if it's in an obscure workshop or even a non-peer-reviewed venue (e.g., arXiv), as long as they have reason to find it credible.

So let's get to the heart of the matter: are your low citations actually indicating a problem in your work? I would advise reflecting on whether your contributions matter to your field and the feedback that you get at conferences. If your contributions matter and you are gaining respect, but you happen to be working on something extremely specialized, it may be fine to not be getting many citations---as long as you're getting cited by the few people who matter in your niche. If you aren't getting citations because your work is correct but not very interesting or relevant to others, however, then you may wish to consider why that is and whether a shift of focus would be useful.

  • I think "If you aren't getting citations because your work is correct but not very interesting or relevant to others" this is the main reason. Also, almost all of my publications are my independent PhD work and I have 1 or 2 authors in publication. – MBK Aug 11 '18 at 11:44
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    I disagree regarding the factors which usually lead to citation. Important factors: 1. Provides a motivation for new papers. 2. Provides evidence supporting an obvious statement. 3. Reviews previous work. 4. Easy to find on search engines. 5. Makes the citing paper look good. 6. Citation is expected by peer reviewers. 7. Describes a method. I doubt many people decide what to cite based on what journal the paper is in now that search engines are available. But some people do imitate work based on what journal it is published in. – Anonymous Physicist Aug 11 '18 at 13:04
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I think that your reasons are largely a finer subdivision of my #4 (excepting ease of discovery on search engines). Even in our current digital world, however, work in highly-ranked journals is still typically easier to discover and often considered more credible. – jakebeal Aug 11 '18 at 13:09

I m not sure if MBK user is talking about open access, but if they are indexed it means they are reputable.

I think you should take a look at this question How does PLOS ONE maintain its impact factor?

open-access journal,including predatory, have a highly visible presence on research engines.

Honestly, I think having 7 articles + 5 papers and 51 citations is good for young researchers. Your H-index is 4? That is not bad for start.

  • i10 index 2 and H index 5 – MBK Aug 12 '18 at 5:44
  • @MBK that is not bad. You are only 7 years in publishing water. If you keep this trend you will be H index 20 on the end of career, I mean, until you become full, that is very good success. – user96746 Aug 12 '18 at 6:45

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