9.2.3 How to identify self-citations in ISI Web of science?

Most administrators using of the ISI Web of Science list the possibility to generate a citation report that excludes self-citations as one of its big advantages. You first conduct a general search for the number of articles published in ISI listed journals. This is the standard search page displayed by ISI after logging in, so you cant miss it.

On the resulting page (see screenshot), the ISI Web of Science then offers the possibility to create a citation report. One can subsequently exclude self-citations from the citation report by clicking on the “view without self-citations” link. To the naive and even the not so naive user, this sounds like a really easy way to identify a “clean” citation record, doesn't it?

ISI self-citations

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The reasons for this are fairly complicated and require a much longer and more detailed explanation than would be appropriate in this Chapter. Further details are therefore provided in Chapter 14 where I discuss the pros and cons of different data-sources (Section 14.2.2)

Suffice to say here that a naive interpretation of ISI data, using the “view without self-citations” link would lead most users to put my self-citation rate at 15%. A more appropriate interpretation would be that around 3% of my citing articles are self-citing articles. However, a fully accurate estimate which could easily take well over an hour to complete, even if you knew what you were doing would be that my self-citations lie around 4-5%.

So in fact ISI makes it more difficult, not less difficult than Google Scholar to accurately exclude self-citations. Hence, there should be absolutely no reason to discard Google Scholar for this reason.