Who creates Google Scholar Profiles?

Reports on a small curiosity project conducted with the Publish or Perish software

When writing my white paper The individual annualised h-index: an ecologically rational heuristic? I became curious as to whether there were any differences between academics in our sample who had set up a Google Scholar Profile and those that had not. This posts is the result of that curiosity.

I am not pretending that the results of this small curiosity project have broad scientific validity. There are also questions about causality and the mechanisms involved. However, I did think the results were interesting enough to share, especially as it is yet another example of the many fun curiosity projects you can do using the Publish or Perish software. Here are three earlier projects:

How to set up and clean GS Profiles

If you haven't set up a Google Scholar profile yet or haven't been able to keep it clean, you may find the following blogposts useful. 

Comparing academics by GS Profile use 

When we started our data collection for the project From h-index to hIa: The ins and outs of research metrics Google Scholar Citation Profiles had only just been introduced and virtually none of the academics in our sample had created one.

However, by April 2017 – half a year after we had implemented a GS Profile search in Publish or Perish – just over half of the academics had created a profile. In 2023 this had increased to nearly 70%. Hence, we decided to switch to mixed data collection and use GS Profiles for those who had one. 

This allowed us to verify whether academics who had a GS Profile stood out in some way from those who had not created such a profile. 

Performance differences

Intuitively, we would expect those with higher levels of citation performance to be keener to showcase their performance. Or maybe causality would work the other way? By making their publications more visibly through a GS Profile they might attract more interest which might lead to more citations.

An alternative line of reasoning could be that active engagement in profile building reflects a more proactive approach to academia and/or higher levels of commitment to one’s academic career, both of which might lead to higher performance.

Whatever the direction of causality or the mechanisms involved, we did find that - both in 2017 and in 2023 - those with a Google Scholar Citations profile had substantially higher citation metrics. In particular the hIa and total number of citations were much higher than for those who did not create such a profile.

Academic rank differences

We also found that those who were already full Professors at the start of our data collection were more likely to have a profile than those that started as Associate Professors in 2013. In 2017 60% of the full Professors had a profile, against 45% of the Associate Professors. In 2023 these proportions were 74% for Professors and 65% for Associate Professors.

However, by 2023 many Associate Professors had been promoted to full Professor. So, if we compare all those who are currently Professor with those who were still Associate Professor in 2023 this difference is even starker. 77% of the current Professors have a GS Profile, whereas only 30% of the Associate Professors who were not promoted did.

No gender and disciplinary differences

As there might a disciplinary and/or gender effect underlying this difference, we verified whether this general pattern replicated across disciplines and genders. This turned out to be the case, in every discipline those with GS profiles had a higher performance than those without. Moreover, the pattern was identical for both male and female academics.

In sum

Again, we do not necessarily suggest causality, but it does appear that high-performing academics are not only more likely to be promoted, to be mobile, and to receive prestigious awards (for details see:The individual annualised h-index: an ecologically rational heuristic?), they are also more likely to maintain a GS profile.

Publish or Perish is a Swiss army knife!

These are just a few of the hundreds of nuggets of quality information that you can find using the free Publish or Perish software. Are you interested in finding out more about how you can use the software to conduct effective author, journal, topic, and affiliation searches?

Do you want to learn how to use it for tenure or promotion applications, conducting literature reviews and meta-analyses, deciding where to submit your paper, preparing for job interviews, writing laudations or obituaries, finding reviewers or keynote speakers, uncovering “citation connections” between scholars, and doing bibliometric research?

To read about all of this and much much more, buy my brand-new guide in my Crafting your career in academia series: Using the Publish or Perish software. At 375 pages it is chock-full of tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the software. I promise you will discover at least a dozen use cases that you had never even thought about before!

Other books in the series

My book series Crafting your career in academia launched in August 2022 with a book on Writing Effective Promotion Applications. The series is a collection of short guides dealing with various aspects of working in academia. It is based on my popular blog.

Aug 2022:

Nov 2022:

Feb 2023:

May 2023: