I was in the evaluation committee for the adjunct lecturers this year, and it was a complete nightmare. There were over thirty candidates and many of them didn't have an account on Google Scholar, which made tracking their impact really hard, due to name collisions etc.

My question is would it be a reasonable requirement to force the candidates to create a Google Scholar account, so that we can easily track their publication/citation record and impact?

My hesitation is that it would require them to give away private information to a third-party company, and some people wouldn't like to be forced to do it, or even raise legal issues.

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    Well, I wouldn't do it. I would be happy to supply a list of publications, and expect you to use real tools such as Web of Science to check citations and whatnot. If you want to evaluate professionals, use professional tools.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:10
  • @JonCuster: Unfortunately we don't have a subscription for that. We do have for scopus though.
    – user000001
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:11
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    Please add a country tag. In my country it would absolutely not be reasonable and I would urge you to talk to your university's lawyer because it might even be illegal.
    – user9482
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 9:44
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; the rest of this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – cag51
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 21:47
  • @Roland: I wouldn't like to add the specific country, let's just say it is in the EU.
    – user000001
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 16:03

9 Answers 9


As much as I like Google Scholar, requiring candidates to create a Google Scholar profile specifically seems inappropriate. You are effectively saying you won't hire people that don't use Google.

What you could do is make it an optional part of the application or you could ask candidates to submit something more vague like a "citation report" and suggest that a printout of their Google Scholar profile is sufficient for this.

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    I am completely fine with an optional box for a Google scholar account, but I would be very put off by a request for a "citation report." But this may be a field-dependent thing. (I am in pure math, along with I believe a disproportionately large number of users of this site.)
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 13:38
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    @Kimball I agree that not much weight should be placed on citations, but that seems to be the information OP is looking for.
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 17:28
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    @Kimball I think the solution for people like you, is to require a citation report, and say "or you can just give us your Google Scholar page if you don't feel like typing it!" Of course you still have the issue of normalizing the non-Scholar citation reports to Scholar and each other, but then if a candidate feels one option undersells them they are always free to just use the other option.
    – Trusly
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 3:36
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    @WGroleau Publications are, by definition, public. So Google Scholar is just collating public information. To each their own, but I don't understand this attitude that Google Scholar is somehow a privacy concern. (I understand more the concern that citation counts are overemphasized.)
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 20:30
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    @JeffE Having all the information summarized in a Google Scholar report is convenient, even if it is, in theory, possible to collect it yourself. I wouldn't interpret it as laziness -- the search committee has limited time and many applications to review. Perhaps they shouldn't look at citation counts at all, but that's another discussion.
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 20:33

Have you considered ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor IDentifier)?

I have the same concerns about intellectual property protection issues around Google unfortunately. GoogleScholar is also quite discipline specific (as others have said here) and is banned in some countries (China, etc). So to endorse a product that exposes a scholar to legal ramifications in their country plus the risk of commercialization of their data is highly problematic.

ORCID on the other hand is "an international, interdisciplinary, open, non-proprietary, and not-for-profit organization". ORCID aims to include every discipline and many publishers and their journals are now mandating ORCID sign-in for their journal logins. Most people do not know about ORCID so you can offer them information. Also, make sure they know to make their ORCID profile public.

Unfortunately, if your applicants refuse to use ORCID, your choice would be limited. I am not sure whether you have a friendly and supportive librarian can confirm their publication record and piece together their impact factor before progressing them through the selection process?

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    This answer is pretty good but I think you should use ORCID profiles, not ORCIDs. It is possible to have an ORCID but no public profile. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 4:46
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    Hi Poidah, it was not intended to be a put down. My comment was intended to be helpful to the asker, not to you. My criticism of ORCID would be that their website is very slow to use. That's not a criticism of you for suggesting it. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 4:56
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    ORCID does not track citations, so it only satisfies a subset of the requirements that Google Scholar fulfills (publication and citation tracking). Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 7:42
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    Poidah, I did not say anything about plurals. If you don't want to be critiqued (in a respectful tone) Stack Exchange is not for you. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 7:42
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    Yeah @lighthousekeeper I think the OP was keen to have a way to easily confirm the legitimacy of someone's publication. Rather than having to go through each publication individually on a search engine. Imagine if each person has 5 to 30 and there are 5 to 15 applicants. It would easily take an afternoon or a couple of days to do a proper due diligence. But yes, citations are not collected on ORCID which is the other point that the OP was keen to measure and easily double check. ORCID does interact with some databases, so it may be easier to find the impact stats through their ORCID.
    – Poidah
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 11:11

I do not think it is reasonable to ask candidates to create a profile on any third-party platform. Particularly on a google service, taking in account that some proportion of web users have concerns about this company (as well as other large corporate data processing companies), and do not want to get on their radar if possible.

Typically, it is sufficient to make it clear to the candidates what are the selection criteria for the post and let them find their preferred way of demonstrating that they meet those criteria. For example, if your criteria is number of citations, you can suggest Google Scholar as an acceptable evidence, along with WoS and others, ultimately allowing your candidates to choose the service they prefer. If you want to check impact, you need to explain what you mean by this (the definitions vary widely across different fields and countries). Note that impact typically is not measured by the academic citations, but rather by adoption of research in non-academic environment, such as industry, government policies, patents, etc.

In the UK, the impact is a key performance indicator in the Research Excellence Framework. It takes Universities a few months to prepare and evidence strong impact cases. I am sometimes puzzled when I see an entry-level faculty post requiring candidates to provide a fully justified impact statement. Maybe it is possible in some disciplines, but in my area (numerical mathematics) I find it difficult to trace, demonstrate and fully evidence the non-academic impact.

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    "I do not think it is reasonable to ask candidates to create a profile on any third-party platform." Most academic job applications are submitted using a third-party platform. Most require creating an account and entering your information. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 4:49
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    @AnonymousPhysicist Most applications I submitted were through the university website, i.e. the platform is hosted by the university. University is the first/second party, not the third one. In the US, many guys use mathjobs.org, but this is not universal across the globe. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 10:59
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: There's a huge difference in an isolated outsourced job application submission service and a platform that's tied into all sorts of other things. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 12:57

It is common, and reasonable, for employers to require job candidates and employees coming up for review to provide the employer with any information it needs to evaluate the candidates/employees. So certainly you can ask them to prepare readable, well-formatted publication lists, citation information, and anything else that lets you evaluate their impact and productivity. I don’t see how the lecturers could reasonably complain if asked to provide such information in a format of your choice.

However, your concern about Google Scholar is justified. Requiring people to open Google accounts as a condition of employment is, at the very least, coercive and unprofessional, and will reflect badly on you. It seems not unlike asking employees to use Gmail email addresses for work because you are too cheap or lazy to figure out a better solution. Similarly, if the evaluation process was a “nightmare”, to me it suggests that the evaluation committee did not give sufficient forethought to asking the lecturers to provide the relevant information. The problem is not with the lecturers not using the tool you wish they used, but with your department not designing the evaluation process thoughtfully enough.


Assuming your university has a subscription, Scopus is pretty good at giving you relatively comprehensive and up to date author publication and citation profiles. It's generally good at dealing with name conflicts.

A few scenarios where it might fail: Academics who have changed names (e.g., by marriage). Academics with particularly common names who have changed institutional affiliation. Of course, academics can notify Scopus of these changes and merge profile data, but it can't be counted on. And as @Flyto, Scopus has fairly good journal coverage, but it may miss other important output (e.g., conference publications, some books and book chapters), which can be particularly important in some fields.

I guess it all depends on how much you want to rely on it versus using it as an additional source of information.

  • I thought it cost money for authors to use, but apparently I was wrong and author profiles lookup is free? Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 7:29
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    I just tried updating my profile, and wow this is worse than Google Scholar. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 7:39
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    Field-dependant. For me, Scopus includes my journal articles but does not include a number of peer-reviewed conference papers, and hence does not give a fair impression of my output.
    – Flyto
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 17:02
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I guess it depends on what you mean by update your profile. I don't believe that it's designed for adding publications. My understanding was that the main things you can do is (a) get publications in the database linked to your name if for some reason they didn't get automatically linked; (b) explain that two names in the system are both you; (c) remove publications from your profile that are not you. But yes, I agree. It's a bit clunky. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 3:52

My question is would it be a reasonable requirement to force the candidates to create a Google Scholar account

You should recommend that candidates provide a Google Scholar Profile (not account). In practice, hiring committees are going to go look for a profile. You might as well let candidates know that is going to happen.

You cannot force job applicants to do anything. They can always just decide not to apply.

so that we can easily track their publication/citation record and impact?

Google Scholar is good for tracking publications. Beware that some people allow Google to add publications to their profile, and these are of often incorrectly added. Do not use it to judge impact, and beware that no citation counting system will be totally reliable.

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    You cannot force job applicants to do anything. They can always just decide not to apply. You can also spin that the other way: "You can force job applicants to do anything, as long as you accept that those that do not want to comply, will just walk away."
    – JAD
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 11:15
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    "You cannot force job applicants to do anything. They can always just decide not to apply." Well, duh, sorry. It's clear that "force applicants to do X" means "refuse to consider applicants who don't do X." I'm quite sure that nobody believes it means to actually physically compel applicants to do something. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 10:00

To some extent this depends on the field and where in the process you are (although I have to find it funny that 30 applications is considered severe; in math there are positions which get literally 300 or 400 applications). Here are some relevant considerations:

Are you in a field which usually uses Google Scholar? Math for example doesn't almost at all(Edit: See comments by Dmitry here- I may be seriously wrong about how much it is used in math), but it seems to be common in some other fields. If one is one of the fields where it is common, that may make more sense.

Is this is a position where research is going to matter? If you are hiring someone as an adjunct as you suggest, this doesn't seem like a research focused position, so why should it matter?

What stage in one's selection process is one in? If for example one first selects out some of the candidates, and asks the remaining pool to do so, that looks a lot more reasonable. You can probably eliminate a fair number of candidates simply by not having strong CVs (and frankly it is likely if you are looking for a research position in a field that often uses Google Scholar that those people will often be the ones without Google Scholar profiles).

Legal issues are complicated, and we can't really give legal advice here, but there are some potential issues that can be highlighted. The most obvious one is accessibility: is Google Scholar easily accessible for people with disabilities? If it isn't, this would be a potential problem. Are you at a state school or a private school? If a state school there are a lot more rules about hiring generally that need to be followed, and asking for something like this after the job has already been advertised with instructions on what to do will be a problem in some states. Note that in some respects for some of these issues this may also be the sort of thing where it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission: if you ask a university legal counsel if you can do anything that seems remotely questionable, they'll frequently just say "no." If you are in Europe some of the legal issues may also be more severe as they may interact with European data privacy issues, and that's a serious enough issue right now that if one is concerned about it, getting competent legal counsel may make sense, but you may have someone even in IT who can walk you through any relevant issues at an informal level.

Now for my personal opinion: For what it is worth, if I were applying for a position and they asked me to make a Google Scholar profile, since we don't generally use them in math, I'd consider that to be a serious red flag about what the committee knew or how much the school was micromanaging hiring decisions. Unless it was a high profile school, at a highly desirable position, I'd almost certainly say no. And if I were to see it while applying for a position that was a primarily teaching position, my reaction would be extremely negative. I have seen positions that ask one to highlight which of one's research papers one is most proud of, and it might be a substantially more useful than trying to use some potentially gameable metric like this.

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    I am in Maths and I use Google Scholar. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:18
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    @DmitrySavostyanov I'm not claiming that none of us use it, but that it isn't used much. Do you think that impression is incorrect?
    – JoshuaZ
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:24
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    All my close collaborators (in Maths) use Google Scholar, apart from maybe one or two very senior professors. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:26
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    I can't say I did a rigorous statistical testing, but when I last checked, GS was picking almost all my papers and almost all citations in a few weeks from the publication date, while WoS and MathSciNet took months and sometimes years to update the records. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 22:33
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    The problem with Google Scholar is not that it doesn't pick up publications; it's that it picks up too many of them (false positives / inflated citation counts). Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 20:30

Yes, it is completely within reason to ask candidates to have a profile somewhere. What it's not appropriate is to demand they use Google specifically.

Besides Scholar there are other alternatives like Scopus, ORCID (mentioned in other answers) or even creating profiles in sites like scholarly, researchgate, or academia.edu. You should leave it to them to choose whichever they like but perhaps suggest Google Scholar as that is what you'd be using to asses them. Don't force them to use an specific 3th party as that could even be illegal in some countries for considering such as 'coercion'.

A little story. During my MBA one teacher made us use facebook to create a group to drop the homework there and such, so I had to create a profile there for that since I had avoided getting one, and after that class I have only used it a couple times for subscriptions. Still, I know some of my data is there. had the professor given us option, we would have use Google environment for the class and it would have worked. So yeah, a professor did asked us directly to use a third party.

On another note, since you mention that it's for hiring, then yes, it is still appropriate to ask for profiles because many companies want to see social media profile before hiring.

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    "many companies want to see social media profile before hiring": too bad, they usually can't, at least not for the generalist kind of social media. And frankly, even where it is allowed, it's likely going to piss off many of the good applicants. But this is tangential to the question, since we are talking about ORCID and likes, which cannot really be considered personal profiles (I wouldn't even call them social media). Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 6:18
  • Many universities operate as companies in a broad sense and nothing stops them from searching your name in media (Thank you for that site, it's quite interesting even if it only applies to USA, I'll check if there are repositories on international rulings). As fort Orchid, it says in it's main page "...your ORCID record with your professional information and link to your other identifiers (such as Scopus or ResearcherID or LinkedIn)", so yeah, its a public profile linked to social media. I dont see it working alone as it wouldn't be such an useful tool [orcid.org/].
    – deags
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 15:57
  • ORCID alone actually can be a useful tool if your name is common or has many spellings (and these cases cover lots of researchers). Not to mention that it is a step towards the semantic web, which is always a good thing :) Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 16:51
  • That is true, although in integration it works even better for the researcher as she/he can link all the profiles. The common name thing however is a big problem, more so because researches around the world are forced to cut their names to only the first name and the first family name to conform to anglosaxon simplicity, like when APA deems to add just 1 initial and first family name ¬¬ . But yeah, moving to better dta and metadata integration is a good thing. I completely agree on that.
    – deags
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 17:05

Is it reasonable to ask candidates to create a profile on Google Scholar?

Absolutely not. Google is an atrocious entity involved in mass commercial and governmental surveillance, political censorship etc. You really must not require people to use Google's services, legitimizing these practices.

Now, to be practical - I'm not saying that you should demand the opposite. I mean, I use Google Scholar from time to time (though I wish I could avoid it completely). But you should definitely make an effort to stay away from the Google "octopus" of services and definitely not feed it more victims. I suggest you not even ask people to have a Google profile (Google Scholar or whatever other account).

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