Scholarly articles and books have citation counts (in for example Google Scholar), as do specific people in citation metrics such as the Arts and Humanities Citation Index. Even universities have ranking systems, such as the QS World Rankings. If I wished to familiarize myself with the reference materials in another language efficiently, is there any way of simply searching for the most "cited" or perhaps widely circulated encyclopedias in that language - to hone in quickly on the analogous publication of Encyclopedia Britannica in, for example, German, Chinese or Hindi?

I have considered searching for encyclopedias in a certain language on worldcat.org, but I cannot order the results (so far as I know) by "number of copies held by libraries worldwide". Google Scholar does list the number of citations for an encyclopedia, but I can't get a list of all encyclopedias ordered by citation (so far as I know). Web of Science, so far as I know, does not index encyclopedias.

Is there any way to achieve this?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Ask your librarian! They know these things. Dec 13, 2019 at 7:10
  • What do you intend to use the encyclopedia for? If you only want to know how the topic is presented in a different language, wikipedia is very good but usually not citable in an academic context. If you just need the fact based description of something, why do you need it from a source in a specific language? Just citing Encyclopedia Britannica should give you the same defintion. Maybe you can explain what you would like to achieve?
    – quarague
    Dec 13, 2019 at 14:01
  • @quarague Pretty much what you described. I want to efficiently see the presentation of different topics in different languages, but I want to use high quality information sources, and not Wikipedia.
    – julkarham
    Dec 13, 2019 at 18:54
  • @julkarham Wikipedia is a high quality source, at least in English. cnet.com/news/study-wikipedia-as-accurate-as-britannica
    – nick012000
    Dec 17, 2019 at 0:51

1 Answer 1


This might not be what you want hear, but I think this kind of product doesn't exist anymore in any meaningful way. Essentially you are asking what would be a reputable universal encyclopedia (with a grown up target audience) in different languages.

I checked a large high quality German book store (Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann) and I didn't find a single one matching your query. There are a number of kids general encyclopedia, for different age groups and of different quality and there are a whole bunch of very specialized encyclopedias, from Star Wars to medical but no universal ones for grown ups.

20 years ago this would have been a good question and there were multiple options in all major languages that could be compared to each other but this is not the case any more.

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