Wikipedia citations

Wikipedia citations

Name:  Wikipedia citations

Can apply to:  Primarily scholarly publications with a persistent identifier, such as a DOI.

Metric definition:  References to scholarly outputs in Wikipedia articles, which are linked to in order to support the the entry’s claims.

Metric calculation:  The number of times a scholarly output has been referenced in Wikipedia articles.  The specific tracking method is dependent on the metric source provider.  Altmetric tracks and calculates Wikipedia citations via identifiers and titles that appear in a valid Wikipedia citation, whereas PlumX mines the full text entry for DOIs, PMIDs, and URLs.

Data sources:  Most sources track only English Wikipedia, but the exact tracking method varies.

Appropriate use cases:  Depending on the context of the citation, Wikipedia references can be interpreted to indicate several kinds of impact, such as a work’s defining influence on a field.  To this end, how and where an item is referenced is more important than the count of Wikipedia cations.

Limitations:  While Wikipedia has guidelines for using and referencing reliable published sources and content criteria, anyone can contribute to the online encyclopedia.  Additionally, Wikipedia’s coverage of the published literature is relatively narrow and more evidence about the relationship between Wikipedia citations and other metrics, such article citations counts, is needed.  A recent study did find that Open Access and high impact journals were more likely to be on English Wikipedia.

Inappropriate use cases:  Raw Wikipedia citation counts should not be interpreted  as a measurement of quality or impact. The full context of Wikipedia citations must be investigated to understand the kinds of impact the references reflect.

Available metric sources:  Wikipedia, PlumX,

Transparency:   In all of the altmetric services in which Wikipedia citations are available, one can access the full-text of the citing Wikipedia pages.


Timeframe:  Wikipedia was launched in 2001, but scholarly items can be cited regardless of age.


Posted on

July 24, 2017