Sort papers by citation number

Sometimes I find it useful to sort papers by number of citations. Could this be implemented in the sort tab?


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Unfortunately there is no publicly available data source for the number of citations. This is closed territory owned by Elsevier’s Scopus and Thomson Reuter’s ISI Web of science. You can get the information from Google Scholar but unfortunately they don’t offer an API which would be required for this feature.

Thanks for the reply. I am confused though (pardon my ignorance) but there is a hook to the google scholar citations on each paper entry in my library, and the number of citations is listed there. Is there no way to collect the citation number from this source.

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I agree it’s confusing. You’re right, we do interact with Google Scholar. However, the interaction must must be user initiated and the request needs to come from your browser (as opposed from our servers).

To systematically collect the citation numbers (and keep them up-to-date) we would need to request this information in the background from our servers. That’s not possible, Google Scholar would block us within seconds.

If you click and view the “Cited by” link that shows the Google Scholar results, Google Scholar thinks you are using the site like a normal user would and that’s ok.

We would love to have an open access data source with the citation graph of all scholarly literature. But at the moment there is none.


Thanks so much for the helpful answer!


I’ve seen a number of sites (like Wiley Online) start to use Altmetric scores in this way. The PaperShip app for iOS offers these as well. I don’t know how easy it is to integrate this information, but it might be an alternative?

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Although readily available, we deliberately chose not to include Altmetric scores. We don’t think they provide enough value.

Can you elaborate on that? Just curious…

I like the idea of altmetrics to collect e.g. blog posts or tweets about a paper. But I think the value is qualitatively, e.g. you can go to their website and explore what other’s have said about the paper.

I don’t see the value as ‘metric’ though which should be used to sort papers. At least we did not see enough value to show it in Paperpile.

I recently gave a talk to librarians about our product strategy. One point was about how difficult it actually is to present complex data in an easily parseable and aesthetic way. We found that one principle helped a lot: Every new feature gets a NO by default. A feature needs to earn a YES by adding value. The altmetric donut did not make the cut.

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Any updates on this feature? I’m actually interested in being able to sort papers in one of my “TO READ” folders by citation count, so I can prioritise papers that are recent but already highly cited (implying current relevance).

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No, I’m afraid not. Tthere is no public source of citation counts which we could use for this feature.

Stefan, I am a bit puzzled by your answer. The serach tool within paperpile gives you a citation count when you use it…

Even if say 50% papers didn’t have a citation count, at least having 50% of them sorted out could sometimes help. If one really needed to do that at least they would only have to do half manually…

This data is from Google scholar and it comes with the search on a one-off basis. When you have 10,000 papers in your library there is no way to keep these numbers up to date. If we tried to do that Google would block us within minutes.

The other sources are Scopus and ISI Web of science data which we can’t license.

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I wonder if it could be possible to add the citation count to ‘notes’ with a time/date stamp? We are responsible/disclaimer by P to updating or checking it. I didn’t see this suggestion or a response that addresses a point in time result. Of course it would be best to be able to sort by this so maybe a new note just for citation count - point in time. thanks. This is an important feature for research, writing and very time consuming to reconcile manually.

I agree getting the citation count, and even not having it up to data would be extremely helpful. Maybe the auto update feature could also update a ‘cached’ citation score?