Google Scholar: Truncation

Publish or Perish tutorial

In the early days, Google Scholar provided complete records for authors and the publication source. However, since about 2012 both fields are regularly truncated, with part of the field replaced by dots […..].

Truncation makes finding the right publication frustrating

We do not know why Google Scholar decided to introduce truncation. It might be related to the “space” available in these fields. Unfortunately it can make finding the right publication very frustrating, both in the Google Scholar interface and in Publish or Perish:

  • Sometimes the name of the author one is searching for does not seem to appear in the record at all, because it is replaced by dots.
  • With common journal names, it becomes impossible to distinguish in which journal an article is published. European journal of…. and International journal of…. could be one of many hundreds of titles.

Author truncation

There does not seem to any particular logic to author truncation. Sometimes four or more authors are shown in full, in other cases the 2nd of two authors is truncated. That said; if one normally co-authors with only one or two others, author truncation is generally not very problematic. Out of the 25 co-authored publications in my h-index, only three were truncated, and the 20 single-authored ones are also shown in full.

Journal truncation

The logic to journal truncation seems even more obscure. Similar to authors, some journals with long names are written in full, whereas some shorter ones are truncated. However, as the first screenshot shows, the same journal can also be truncated in many different ways.


Below, out of two articles in the same issue of a journal, one was shown with the full name and the other with a truncated journal name.


Author & journal truncation combined

Journal titles appear to be more likely to be truncated when there are more authors or authors with longer names, so it seems likely that Google Scholar applies a limit to the maximum number of characters to the two field combined.

Write to Google Scholar support

If you would like to see truncation removed, let Google Scholar know. Obviously, there is no guarantee they will listen, but we can always try…

Work-around using Mendeley

Alex Harrison at the European Society of Endocrinology suggested this useful work-around.

  1. Use Publish or Perish to generate a list of articles (including truncated entries) and save the results as BibTeX, EndNote, or RIS/Reference Manager (Simply select the Query, then right-click and click Save to File).
  2. Import this file into a new folder in Mendeley, right-click and select Update details. This completes most of the truncated entries.

Please note that this is limited to entries where Mendeley can find the full entry and is thus more likely to work for traditional publications such as journal articles.

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