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Evaluating Scholarly Publications for Tenure and Promotion: Potential Risks

This guide will help you find evidence of the value of your publications to use in your FAR.

Fraudulent Impact Factors

An increasing number of fraudulent impact factors are designed to assist weak or predatory journals. If you are unsure of the validity of an impact factor, please contact your librarian for help.

Google Scholar Ratings

Number of citations can be misleading

Google Scholar tracks the number of times an article in Scholar is cited in other Scholar sources. However, Scholar does not distinguish between credible sources and predatory or poor quality articles. Scholar citation counts often include duplicates. citation multiple times if it finds an article in multiple places. For example, Researcher A publishes a paper citing Researcher B in a peer-reviewed journal. Scholar may find (and count) Research B's paper

  • on the publisher's page,
  • on Researcher A's web page,
  • in Researcher A's institutional repository,
  • and on an open course site for a course at another university.

Google Scholar will show that Researcher B's article was cited 4 times when in reality, it was cited in one paper that appeared 4 times in Scholar.

Easy to manipulate

An unethical scholar can improve the chances of being cited

  • By publishing in a predatory journal that uses no legitimate peer review or quality control
  • Through frequent self-citation

So, generally speaking, Google Scholar should not be the sole source for determining the impact of a publication. It may or may not be an accurate reflection of a scholar's real influence. See more information on this practice in the article "Scholar Accused of Bogus Boost to Google Rating" cited below.

Scholar Accused of Bogus Boost to Google Rating. (21 January, 2014). Inside HigherEd.
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