October 27, 2021

Journal Article: “A Two-Sided Academic Landscape: Portrait Of Highly-Cited Documents In Google Scholar (1950-2013)”

The following paper (in English, PREPRINT) has been accepted for publication in Revista Española de Documentación Científica.


A Two-Sided Academic Landscape: Portrait Of Highly-Cited Documents In Google Scholar (1950-2013)


Alberto Martín-Martín
Universidad de Granada

Enrique Orduna-Malea
Universitat Politècnica de València

Juan M. Ayllón
Universidad de Granada

Emilio Delgado López-Cózar
Universidad de Granada


via arXiv


The main objective of this paper is to identify the set of highly-cited documents in Google Scholar and to define their core characteristics (document types, language, free availability, source providers, and number of versions), under the hypothesis that the wide coverage of this search engine may provide a different portrait about this document set respect to that offered by the traditional bibliographic databases.

To do this, a query per year was carried out from 1950 to 2013 identifying the top 1,000 documents retrieved from Google Scholar and obtaining a final sample of 64,000 documents, of which 40% provided a free full-text link. The results obtained show that the average highly-cited document is a journal article or a book (62% of the top 1% most cited documents of the sample), written in English (92.5% of all documents) and available online in PDF format (86.0% of all documents). Yet, the existence of errors especially when detecting duplicates and linking cites properly must be pointed out. The fact of managing with highly cited papers, however, minimizes the effects of these limitations.

Given the high presence of books, and to a lesser extend of other document types (such as proceedings or reports), the research concludes that Google Scholar data offer an original and different vision of the most influential academic documents (measured from the perspective of their citation count), a set composed not only by strictly scientific material (journal articles) but academic in its broad sense.

Direct to Full Text Article (26 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.