Author search

For important background information, see:

Tip: For many additional use cases relating to author searches see the Publish or Perish Tutorial. This includes detailed instructions on how to make your case for tenure, promotion, or grant applications, as well a wide of range of use cases related to evaluating other authors, including academic visitors, job interviews, and tips for Deans.

How to perform an Author search

To perform a basic author search:

  1. Enter the author's name in the Authors field;
  2. Click Lookup or press the Enter key.

The program will now contact the data source in question to obtain the citations, process the list, and calculate the Citation metrics, which are then displayed in the Results list. The full list of results is also available for inspection or modifications and can be exported in a variety of formats.

Author search syntax across databases

Every data source has its own unique syntax that – oftentimes – is not fully documented. Below you will find the most important tips and problems, but to get the best out of the different data sources you need to be prepared to experiment with different search strategies. If you find that some things are not working as you expect, please share your findings by sending me an email, so that, collectively, we can improve these instructions.

Please note: The search syntax below refers to what works best when you search the data source through Publish or Perish. This is not always identical to the most effective search syntax in the web interfaces of the respective databases as these might be structured differently.

Data source Preferred search syntax Most common problems
Crossref

1. Last name only [only if the last name is fully unique].

2. Full given name + Family name; sort by rank and move to last consecutive accurate result.

From there onwards, accurate results will be either non-existent or infrequent, typically occurring in batches.

3. Do not: search for Initial + Family Name as CR implements an OR search (i.e “J Bloggs” will result in all academics with initial J + all academics with last name Bloggs).

4. Do not: use AND or OR searches they are not supported.

1. If not unique, can still work if you can identify a comprehensive, but distinctive enough, set of words in articles titles (in “title words”) or in title and abstract (in “any of the words”).

2a. Might still miss some publications, esp. in fields where publishing with initials only is common.

2b. Relevant publications without citations will often be ranked low, so are likely to be missed.

2c. Works best for academics with mostly first-authored publications and authors with few co-authors (leading to high “rank” score).

Note: Reliably identifying authors is very difficult in CR, so it is best to only try this for authors you are very familiar with.
Google Scholar (GS)

1. Single initial + Family name.

2. Multiple initials + Family name.

3. Full given name + Family name.

4. Two author names separated by AND will report co-authored papers.

5. Two author names separated by OR will report paper authored by either author (or name variants of one author).

1. Might report too many homonyms, see this blogpost on Author Disambiguation for very comprehensive tips to address this.

2. Might miss (some) publications if author has also published with one initial.

3. Might miss (some) publications, esp. in fields where publishing with initials only is common.
Google Scholar Profile (GSP)
  • The GSP search is very "forgiving"; most searches will provide some kind result.
  • Try searching with the most unique element(s) of an academic’s name. Narrow down by including affiliation (if known) if you get too many results.
  • Only works if academic in question has created a profile.
  • No result if you search by full given name and academic has only used initial in their profile. Easily fixed by using a less restrictive search.
Microsoft Academic (MA)

1. Full given name + Family name usually, though not always, gives a good result.

2. Single initial + Family name

3. Two author names separated by AND will report co-authored papers.

4. Two author names separated by OR will report paper authored by either author (or name variants of one author).

1. This type of search performs better in MA than in all other databases, but might still miss some publications, esp. in fields where publishing with initials only is common.

2. Might report too many homonyms, but can be narrowed down by year and/or including words in article title in “any of the words”
Scopus

1. Single initial + Family name.

2. Do not: search for Full given name + Family name as this will only give a sub-set of an academic’s publications.

3. Two author names separated by AND will report co-authored papers.

4. Do not use and OR search, it is not supported

Note: Reliably identifying authors is difficult in the free Scopus search as it implements an AND search within the entire author record, not within the author name (i.e “C Kulik” will also match “K Kulik, C Stone”).

1a. Might report too many homonyms, but can be narrowed down by year and by including non-relevant article title words in “none of the words”, separated by OR; e.g. medical terms for a Social Sciences scholar. If uncertain if an article belongs to the author you are searching for, right-click and select “open article in browser” to get more detail.

1b. Can also be narrowed down by including relevant title words in “all of the words”; separate title words by OR to change this field into “any of the words”.

1c. Can also be narrowed down by university affiliation(s) if known and the author you are searching for has not worked at too many different institutions.
Web of Science

1. Family name + Single Initial [please note: WoS requires family name first!].

2. Family name + Full given name (for publications after 2007 only).

3. Two author names separated by AND will report co-authored papers.

4. Two author names separated by OR will report paper authored by either author (or name variants of one author).

1. Might report too many homonyms, but can be narrowed down by year and/or including words in article title in “title words”, separated by OR. [Can use wildcards, e.g. global* for global, globally, globalize, globalise, globalization, globalisation, globalizing, globalising]

2. Might still miss some publications, esp. in fields where publishing with initials only is common.