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How many times has a prof's work been cited?

  1. Jul 27, 2009 #1
    Is there any way to tell how many times a prof's work has been cited? I don't want to be forced research some nut's theory that is far-removed from what is mainstream, well-tested, etc. Or, should I not have to worry about this at all? (I'm in a terminal Master's program @ U-Minn Duluth (no PhD program...very nice), doing research for someone I think is pretty well respected...very fortunately).

    Should I even be worrying about this? I'm just wondering, because as an undergraduate I was strongly influenced by the perspective of a total nut-job, and therefore severely isolated myself from the other professors, and even from the very way the world worked. (Long story...just justifying my paranoia).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2009 #2


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    Hit Cite-base, and start digging for cites. Remember that the number of cites in a very specialized field might be low, and a high number of cites may not be all that great if the citing authors were refuting your prof's work. The quality of the citations matters more than the quantity.
  4. Jul 27, 2009 #3


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    Yes, actually, maybe you should be worried. There are a few professors out there who really are crackpots in their fields - there's a particular one at the University of Missouri I'm thinking of who thinks the Sun is made of iron (pretty much entirely). I've seen his graduate students give talks at various meetings - they get up there, give a presentation on how the Sun is made of iron, and then they sit down and this professor answers all the questions directed at them. I've thought about approaching these students, but have never done so. But I know he's actively recruiting - he sent me quite a bit of material a few years back after I had accidentally gotten dragged into a conversation with him.

    Another way to find citations is to look up a professors work on ADS (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html) - each paper will list the number of citations it has.
  5. Jul 27, 2009 #4


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    If you use WebofScience, you can look up your prof, and then start going through their papers to determine how many times they've been cited (a few sources won't be cited; some of the IEEE Conferences, for instsance). Not sure, but I believe impact factor is also given somewhere.

    Again, yeah, if it's people refuting their work, that might be problematic. But what did P.T. Barnum say? "The only bad publicity is no publicity"
  6. Jul 28, 2009 #5


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    There are a few citation indexes that you can look up. However, if you have access to a library, ask a librarian. Believe it or not, a trained librarian knows how to do this, and it is part of his/her job. He/she can look up not only number of citations, but also impact factor of each of the journals.

    If you know all the papers that a particular person has published, then you can always look up each paper using Google Scholar and do a manual count of the number of citing papers. This of course gets tedious if that person has published a large number of papers.

  7. Jul 29, 2009 #6
    How many citations is a "good amount'? 20? 200?
  8. Jul 29, 2009 #7
    That depends. A young professor in their early thirties may not have that many citations just because they haven't had the time to actually perform much research. At the master's level you should be smart enough to know the quality of your professor and their work without considering how many citations they have. Going by just the number of citations alone isn't a good way to judge the quality of a professor or their work since not everyone publishes their work. A few professors I know come to mind who work closely with industry on proprietary research and because of that are not allowed to publish anything.

    But if the sun was made out of iron, wouldn't it be really heavy and fall out of the sky?
  9. Jul 29, 2009 #8


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    It depends on your field. In some fields, the average number of references in a paper is about 10, whereas in others it averages more like 50.
  10. Jul 29, 2009 #9
    Agreed but I'm merely an undergrad :smile: and its more for my own curiosity, because at my level working with any professor at all is pure gold regardless of their publication record.
  11. Jul 30, 2009 #10
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