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Warning about Citation Searching

The citation search should be used and interpreted with great care. Citations in SPIRES-HEP are gathered only from the papers in our database that have references entered electronically via eprints or journal articles. Non-eprinted papers are difficult for us due to manpower constraints. The citations we do collect are subject to many forms of error, from typographical errors in the source paper, to errors in our parsing of the reference, to errors due to some nonstandard reference formats. Publications such as monographs or conference proceedings are treated inconsistently, both in the literature and in our database. Thus citations to these works can be up to date, completely missing, or somewhere in between.

As just one example of this, take a look at the citation counts of the 3 papers that formulated the electroweak sector as we know it today. You should notice that 2 of the three are cited heavily, while Salam's paper (which generally is cited right next to the other two) has no cite count at all. We regret that, because Salam's original paper on this model was published in a conference proceeding, its citations are not registered in the database. Please keep this type of thing in mind when using our citation counts.

These are just a few of the challenges that any attempt to track citations confronts. There will always be errors in citation counts in SPIRES-HEP and in other databases.

We, roughly, estimate our chance of missing a journal or eprint reference at 1-2%. There are also systematic errors such as dramatic undercounting (or non-existence) of cites to non-eprinted conference papers. We also do poorly with cites from older published literature. Other citation databases have different (sometimes complementary) strengths and weaknesses.

Our best defense against these errors is you, the user.

  • If you want to ensure that your references are entered correctly, use SPIRES-HEP to generate LaTeX references
  • If you are having problems in SPIRES-HEP, please notify us at spires@slac.stanford.edu, or refer to our Help pages for instructions on what to do if you find a problem

As of April 2004 we rectified (mostly) an inconsistency in counting some conference proceedings papers (i.e. those in Nucl. Phys. Proc. Suppl., eConf, APS Conf. Proc., and a few others) that were being counted as "published" for the purposes of the citation summary. We no longer list conference proceedings as "published" where possible. These papers are still counted in the first column, but do not show up in the "published" column in the citesummary format.


SPIRES HEP is a joint project of SLAC, DESY & FNAL as well as the worldwide HEP community.
Mirrors: DESY (Germany), Fermilab (US), IHEP (Russia), Durham U. (UK), SLAC (US), YITP (Japan); LIPI (Indonesia);

Last Updated: 07/26/2007

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