Citation impact

A citation is an acknowledgment to the source used in a published work. Analysis of citation counts can be used to assess the usage and impact of a piece of work. Citation counts represent the total number of citations received since an item was published. Citation counts are not a measure of quality as older publications tend to have more citations than newer publications, simply because they have had longer to receive them from subsequent work. Citation counts tend to be higher in disciplines whose academics tend to publish frequently and include long reference lists.

Citation counts are not comparable across disciplines because of differences in publishing and citation.


These tools include citation data analysis. Several other library databases include options for searching for citations but may not include tools for analysis.

Field-weighted citation impact indicates how well cited the publication is when compared to the average number of citations received by all similar publications in the subject field over a three-year window. Similar publications are those that have the same year, type, and discipline.

  • 1 indicates the output performs just as expected for the global average.
  • More than 1 indicates the output has been cited more than the global average.
  • Less than 1 means that the output is cited less than the global average.

FWCI is a complement to citation per publication, taking into account behavioral differences across disciplines. Each discipline makes an equal contribution to the metric, which eliminates differences in research citation behaviour.

Outputs in top percentiles indicates the extent to which publications are present in the most-cited percentiles of the data source.

  • Scopus Citation Benchmarking shows how citations received by the publication compared with the average for similar articles. It compares publications within an 18 month window and is computed separately for each of its sources' disciplines.
  • Essential Science Indicators Hot and Highly Cited Papers make it easy to pinpoint the most influential research in a field.
  • The % Documents in Top 1% indicator in Web of Science is the top one percent most cited documents (as defined in the description of Average Percentile) in a given subject category, year and publication type divided by the total number of documents in a given set of documents, displayed as a percentage. A higher value is considered to be higher performance.

Last updated : 28 April 2021
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