Author search

Please note: This page refers to a Google Scholar search. For the much simpler Google Scholar Profile and Microsoft Academic searches, see the Quick Introduction page.

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 Google Scholar 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.

Please note: An author query is not the same as a standard Google Scholar search (i.e., from the Google Scholar home page); it is more specific. If you want to duplicate the results from a standard Google Scholar search, then follow the instructions on the General search page.

Smart searching avoids many problems

You can avoid many of these namesake problems by smart searching. There are five simple steps (linked to separate pages of the PoP tutorial) that will cover the majority of problematic searches:

  1. First of all ensure you put quotes around your search, e.g. "J Smith", not J Smith. If you don't, Google will match the initial anywhere in the author record, so you might get publications by A Smith and J Jones.
  2. Second, if your author has normally published with multiple initials, e.g. "JK Smith", then use multiple initials.
  3. Third, if your author as only ever published with one initial, you can exclude namesakes with multiple initials in one fell swoop by excluding "J* Smith", "J** Smith", "J*** Smith".
  4. Fourth, if your author works in a field where journals typically list full given names, you can simply search for "John Smith".
  5. If after these steps, you are left with only a few publications that are not relevant, you can simply use selective exclusion to remove them.

 Obviously, you can combine several of these steps for the best result.

What if this still doesn't give you the result you want?

The above will give you a good result for many authors, but for some you will still get many irrelevant hits. Hence, you need stronger armory. Below I have listed five more strategies that can be used, each linking to a detailed example in the PoP tutorial.

  1. Use year restrictions: Useful if you know you author has for instance only published since 2002.
  2. Use multiple names: Useful if your author has published under multiple names (e.g. maiden/married name, original/anglicized name).
  3. Exclude co-authors: Useful if your author has only published with a limited number of co-authors, you can then exclude namesakes' co-authors.
  4. Use research field: Useful if your author has published in designated research field that are likely to appear in their articles.
  5. Use affiliation: Useful if your author has only work in a limited number of institutions.

You might also wish to try out a Google Scholar Profile or Microsoft Academic search. These sources have fewer problems with author disambiguation, see the Quick Introduction page for details.

Step-by-step search strategy

We have found that the following search strategy is often very effective:

  1. Search for the target academicÂ’'s name with his/her first initial and surname in quotes, e.g. "A Harzing". Please note that Google Scholar matches the surname and initials anywhere in the initials+surname combination, so "C Kulik" would be matched by CJ Kulik, CLC Kulik, but also by MC Kulik.
  2. It is generally better to use fewer initials and then exclude the ones you don't want (see next point) instead of using more initials, because many citations (or authors) are sloppy with the initials they use. With too many initials in the Authors field you run the risk of missing a substantial number of relevant articles.
  3. To exclude certain author names, enter them in Authors field prefaced by - (a minus sign). For example, to exclude CLC Kulik from the previous example, enter -"CLC Kulik" in the Authors field (and keep "C Kulik"). You can enter more than one exclusion: -"CJ Kulik" -"CLC Kulik" -"MC Kulik" would exclude all these combinations from the search.
  4. If the result includes publications not published by the target academic, deselect those publications (remove the tick mark in the first column by clicking on it). If the list is long, it might be easier to deselect all publications first and then only select the relevant publications. Please note that any titles with less than 5 citations usually have very little or no impact on the h-index, but might influence the g-index. Hence, if you are faced with a very long list and are only interested in the h-index, you might consider deselecting all and only reviewing titles with 5 or more citations.
  5. Selecting relevant publications might be easier by sorting the results by Cites, Authors, Title, Year, Publication, or Publisher. Sorting is done simply by clicking on the corresponding column heading.

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The development of the Publish or Perish software is a volunteering effort that has been ongoing since 2006. Download and use of Publish or Perish is and will remain free (gratis), but your support toward the costs of hosting, bandwidth, and software development are appreciated. Your support helps further development of Publish or Perish for new data sources and additional features.