How to merge “stray citation" records?

Google Scholar (and thus Publish or Perish) often reports multiple occurrences of the same publication. Please note that this is not the same as multiple identical web versions of the same paper as these are normally aggregated under one master record. What we mean here are "stray citations", records that have not been aggregated under the master record. These 2nd (and sometimes 3rd and further) versions typically only have a small number of citations each. Stray citation records are generally the result of misspelling of an author’s name, the title of the publication or the journal, or listing of the wrong volume, issue or page numbers. They can also be caused by Google Scholar parsing errors. For more details on this, please see: Google Scholar: Stray citations


It is important to note that stray citation records are not unique to Google Scholar. They are for instance prevalent in the Web of Science as well if you use the "Cited Reference" search [which includes references to books and non-ISI listed journals] rather than the general search function. Microsoft Academic searches also tend to result in a number of stray citation records, though their occurrence is far less prominent than in Google Scholar.

So what to do if one of your Publish or Perish searches shows up a lot of stray citation records? If these stray citation records have no citations and if you are only interested in total citation counts or the h-index, I suggest you simply ignore them as they will no impact on these metrics. If you are interested in an accurate count of publications, I suggest you simply deselect them, either one-by-one or by selecting all of them and right-clicking to access the context menu, which will allow you to “uncheck” them all on one go.

If, on the other hand, one or more of these stray citation records have a non-negligible number of citations, you can merge them into their master record. For further details on this, see the relevant tutorial pages:

Create a Google Scholar Citation Profile for persistent merging

Please note that merging records in Publish or Perish is NOT persistent. As soon as you conduct a new search, Publish or Perish will need to “refresh” the data coming from Google Scholar (or another source). If the records are still separate in the underlying data sources, they will appear as separate records again in Publish or Perish. I would therefore not encourage you to spend a lot of time on merging records, unless you are doing so for an important occasion such as a performance appraisal, tenure or promotion application.

If you would like persistenty merged records, the best solution is to set up a Google Scholar Citation Profile, which  is easy and very quick to do and merge the relevant records there. Since version 5 Publish or Perish allows you to Google Scholar Profile searches. Thus any work you put into cleaning up your Google Scholar Profile is well worth the effort.

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