Google Scholar is making it very easy to track (their measure of) citation counts, h-index, etc. for individual researchers. Is this changing how academics are evaluated? Do tenure committees now bring up google scholar profiles, or do they continue to prefer other sources for citation data? Is there pressure to make your Google Scholar profile public?

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    During the last evaluation at our department, all staff members were encouraged to make their Google Scholar profiles public. Jul 24, 2012 at 18:28
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    many colleagues in my field do not have Google Scholar profile so it is hard to switch to it fully.
    – userJT
    Sep 4, 2012 at 20:20
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    Google Scholar is useful even for people without profiles.
    – JeffE
    Sep 5, 2012 at 2:50

3 Answers 3


Yes, promotion and hiring committees look at Google Scholar, especially in fields like computer science where Google's citation data is more comprehensive than other sources like Scopus, which misses many citations of and by conference papers. In this respect, Google Scholar hasn't really changed the way people are evaluated, though; we've just replaced one unreliable (and expensive) source of questionable statistical data with a slightly less unreliable (and free) source for almost (but not quite) the same data.

Much more importantly, though, Google Scholar makes it easier to find electronic copies of papers, which makes it easier for committees to judge each candidate's work directly. In this respect, Google Scholar has had a significant impact.

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    Is Google Scholar really that accurate in your fields? I am in applied mathematics, and I find lots of duplicate, bogus or grossly misformatted (completely wrong title and/or authors) entries in its "citations". It overestimates my citations by roughly a factor 4, at the moment, and my publications by roughly a factor 2 (before I corrected it by hand). Sep 5, 2012 at 6:19
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    Sadly, in theoretical computer science at least, Google Scholar is more accurate than any other source. Yes, there are lots of false positives, and duplicates, and problems with merging authors with common names, and citations from things (like lecture notes) that aren't publications, but other sources miss large swaths of the literature entirely.
    – JeffE
    Sep 5, 2012 at 15:46
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    It's also handy for people who work across fields that don't normally talk to each other. For example, one of my papers is just never going to show up in say, a PubMed search for me.
    – Fomite
    Oct 18, 2013 at 17:37

Since the criteria is the same (citation count, H-index, G-Index...) I think Google Scholar is not changing anything, just making much easier to find/evaluate; therefore it might have a considerable impact.

But should be noted that, due to many errors like mixing authors with similar names and counting citations that shouldn't be counted, Google Scholar can't be used as a definitive source of evaluation.

Recently I have found Microsoft Academic Search more useful.

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    +1 for MS academic search. It shows the citation contexts also, which I believe, Google scholar doesn't show.
    – user13107
    Sep 19, 2012 at 17:36
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    Having looked at it, I find MS Academic Search to be a rather chaotic tool, and one that still needs a lot of refinement. Most of my own papers are missing or mischaracterized.
    – aeismail
    Oct 15, 2012 at 15:34
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    I find the same as aeismail: MAS has far more errors than GS, and a far lower citation count/h-index. Sep 15, 2013 at 10:58
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    Agreed, MAS in many cases I have seen underestimates the number of publications (to say nothing of citations) by a factor of 5 or more. Oct 18, 2013 at 19:20

At my place, people who are doing well have public Google Scholar profiles, while those who shouldn't and probably wouldn't get tenured hide their profiles, probably because their publication — and thus citation — records stink.

  • Correlation is not causation… and even if it were, which way does it go?
    – F'x
    Oct 19, 2013 at 7:46

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