I have recently got another citation, which brought my citation count to three. Even though I am proud of my three citations, others may find it funny or pitiful. So I am having doubts whether I should make my Google Scholar profile public and share my achievements with the world. Most profiles on Google Scholar I click on have over 100 citations. I will be lucky to get that many in 20 years.

I think the decision to make the Google Scholar profile public depends on citation count + several other factors. The other factors that come to mind are: my age, number of publications, field, level of the institution I am affiliated with, etc.

I am 30, a young economist still working on my big paper, I have a PhD from a low level university in Eastern Europe, presently working at a not so high level university in China, but I have aspirations to make it to an average American or Western European university.

It seems to me that public Google Scholar profiles are for accomplished researchers and I should just wait for a decade or two. But what concerns me is that as I attempt to publish my next paper or apply for a grant or a job, the editor/reviewers/committee will bring up my profile on Scopus or some other portal, which will be missing some citations. In my case, Scopus shows two citations instead of three! I feel like someone must be laughing at this point, but I am sure even the best go through this stage in their careers.

Does anyone have an advice for me and other scientists with less than 100 citations? When do they usually open up Google Scholar profiles in prestigious universities? In not-so-prestigious universities? On your faculty?


6 Answers 6


As someone who is currently on a search committee for two tenure track positions in mathematics, I can tell you that "hiding" your profile certainly won't help. In the job search process, potential employers are going to want to know about your research and its impact. It's common to check on Google Scholar, Math Reviews, Web of Science, and similar databases to see what impact a candidate's research has had. Many of the candidates for faculty positions that I've seen don't have public profiles, and in my opinion this makes them look weak in comparison with candidates who do.

If you don't have a public profile then someone trying to evaluate your research who looks at Google Scholar will probably find one or two of your most cited papers or perhaps find nothing and assume that you have essentially no citations. Another possibility is that they'll find a confusing bunch of papers written by other authors whose names are similar to yours. Having a public profile ensures that they'll see all of your publications and citations. Even if there aren't many citations yet, this also shows that you're aware of the importance of documenting your research activity and its impact.

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    +1 for the authors with similar names. A GS profile is an excellent way of identifying what is, and is not, your work.
    – JenB
    Jan 1, 2016 at 11:48
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    I am an economist, I will add that this is precisely on point. Make a google scholar page when you are on the market, most notably for the AEA's if you are willing to apply through that venue (even though it's US centered). The number of citations does not matter - clearly and proudly display your accomplishments. Oct 28, 2022 at 3:22

Congratulations on getting your third citation -- I don't think it's silly or laughable at all to be happy about something like that (I would be similarly happy to discover my citation count increased by 50% overnight ;-)). But let me offer a bit of perspective: I'm also in math, and in my area at least citations are not an especially important metric, and in particular for junior researchers (say, at the postdoc or assistant professor levels) I don't remember ever either knowing or caring how many citations a job candidate (or someone else I was interested in for professional reasons) has. For more senior researchers this becomes a bit more important (meaning a bit more important than not at all, but still not particularly important).

As for a Google Scholar profile, that is another thing that in math nobody cares about, at least not per se. I have never looked up anyone's Google Scholar profile (except maybe if it came up as the top search result in a google search), and didn't even know until very recently that they exist; similarly, all that matters to anyone I know who is evaluating a job candidate is that there is an easy way to access the candidate's CV, list of publications, and downloadable files of their papers. If you can achieve that with a Google Scholar profile, great, but any other way, such as a personal web page, or uploading your papers to arXiv (or an equivalent thing for econ papers), would work just as well. In fact, for those with the patience and technical ability to set one up, a personal web page is in my opinion the best way since it gives you complete control over how you communicate information about yourself to the world.

Now, I understand that you're in economics and things may work a bit differently there. In particular, with economics being a social science, I would imagine that it may be a lot more important for you to show that your research is part of a larger dialogue within the research community, and citations would be one way to show this. Nonetheless, I think it's important to keep in mind that your goal should be to do the best research, not to do the research that gets the most citations (and of course those two goals are sometimes, but not always, aligned). And when you cultivate your "brand" by deciding whether to set up a Google Scholar profile or considering any other such question, I suggest focusing on the goal of communicating to others in the best way why your research is important, not on a superficial question like whether you will appear to have 2 or 3 citations. Just my 2 cents, which you should take with a grain of salt because I'm not very familiar your area.

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    Checking a candidate's profile on Google Scholar (or Web of Science or Mathscinet) is a good way of verifying that the publications listed on the CV actually exist. Of course, "J. Smith" could claim a publication on her CV that wasn't actually hers, but it's hard to get away with that if the real J. Smith has a profile and has claimed the publication. Jan 3, 2016 at 3:00

I am also in math, and have also served on search committees, and have a quite different opinion than Brian Borchers, though I am in pure maths whereas Brian seems to be in applied math. Most mathematicians I know don't have public Google Scholar profiles, and I personally think there's not much reason to if you put your papers on the arXiv or your webpage.

Revised: There are some reasons for a mathematician to have a public profile. It can provide a minor convenience for people following your work and GooSchol gives you some features for making your profile public as mentioned in the comments. Also, it doesn't require a subscription like MathSciNet, and is easier than making a webpage with all your papers. However, I personally don't have one because: (1) I don't like advertising an (inaccurate) citation count and don't want to encourage the use of citation metrics to compare scholars, and (2) I don't have control over inaccuracies in my profile (e.g., different papers of mine counted as the same, and a paper that's not mine being auto-merged with one of mine). (This said, if it starts becoming standard in my field and supplants MathSciNet and the arXiv, I probably would make public profile.)

While a high citation count is impressive on first glance (and I do look at citations for some job candidates, on MathSciNet or Google Scholar), I don't put much stock in it when evaluating research, especially for younger researchers--in fact I think it is wrong to focus on, one reason being citation count tendencies are heavily subarea dependent.

However, my opinion is probably area dependent, and I probably feel this way because most of my colleagues don't have public profiles and we aren't crazy about citation counts like people are in some fields.

You may want to ask a separate question about how citation counts are viewed for grant/job applications in your specific field, as I think this is highly dependent on research area.

UPDATE (2019): Over the past couple of years, I think Google Scholar has been getting more popular in pure math also, and I decided to make my profile public. However, I did this with somewhat mixed feelings (for the above reasons), and think it is still okay not to make your profile public if you do not want to. (Certainly not all good job candidates have one.) However, if your citation counts on Scholar are impressive, it can certainly help you on the job market as some people will look to see if you have a public profile.

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    In my view, the main reason to use Google Scholar is to get the citation alerts and "relevant papers" information. Dec 31, 2015 at 15:14
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    @FedericoPoloni But I can get that without a public profile.
    – Kimball
    Dec 31, 2015 at 15:23
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    In my experience, the citation links are much more important than citation counts. Most people don't change jobs all the time, while someone might be following their work quite often. Not having a public Google Scholar profile makes that harder than necessary. Dec 31, 2015 at 23:23
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    I think there are big discipline differences here. I don't know about economics specifically, but social science generally does not have access to ArXiv or any equivalent. In fact, putting out a technical or working paper can make something unpublishable because it has been published.
    – JenB
    Jan 1, 2016 at 11:46
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    I don't have control over inaccuracies in my profile Uhh. I think you're not using it right.
    – Thomas
    Dec 8, 2018 at 4:39

As a mathematics postdoc, I really appreciate people having public Google scholar profiles.

This is not for hiring purposes, but rather, they provide a convenient way of checking the recent and most cited work of the person, or, if they are junior, all of their work. Arxiv might give two thirds of the benefits, if the researcher is a mathematician (or a physicist). Further, I can, with fair ease see who has cited their papers and maybe see their coauthors in the sidebar. Scholar is also pretty good at finding freely available PDFs or previews of books, which is nice, and also takes into account institutional access to some extent.

Even more conveniently, I can follow the researcher's work, the work of others citing them, or even related research if their work is very interesting to me.

I can do all of this from home or work without extra effort, since the service is not behind a paywall.

I would recommend having a Scholar profile when you have a publication, to make it easier for others to find out what you are doing. Maybe clean it once a while to merge duplicates or to remove research that is not your own, especially if your research is in several repositories or there are many people with the same family name and initial(s). Maybe add coauthors, if you want to, but that is extra service.



The purpose of a profile is not to boast about your citations. It is to make it easy for people to find your publications using your name. All you need is one publication, and then you should have a Google Scholar profile.


I think it is perfectly reasonable to make your Google Scholar profile public irrespective of the number of citations. The profile still allows people to see your work and know what you have written about. Three citations is far less than most practicing academics, but it is still an impressive scholarly accomplishment, so you are right to be proud of that accomplishment. If you are brave enough to share your profile with the world with a relatively modest number of citations (by academic standards), that will make others less reluctant to also share their own profiles.

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