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Publication Tracking : Getting Started


What do we mean when we say publication tracking? In this context, publication tracking refers to the process of searching for and compiling publications from a specific author, group of authors, or institution. Alternative names for publication tracking include author searching, publication counts, or publication outputs.

Before you begin your publication tracking search, there are a few important considerations you will want to make. On this page you will find information on:

Initial Considerations

General things to consider:

  • How precise or comprehensive you would like the search to be. This will help you to determine how much information you will need for your search, and whether you would like to seek help from an experienced librarian. Librarians can help you to make your search more precise and comprehensive. Know however, that no search is perfect. It is likely that your search will either miss some relevant publications or retrieve some irrelevant publications.
  • How much time you are willing to dedicate to the search. This will partly dictate the precision of your search. More precise searches can take a significant amount of time to create.

For author searches, consider:

  • The research area or field of the author(s). This can help you to determine what database would best fit your search. If the author is primarily a biomedical researcher, a search in PubMed may provide you with a comprehensive list of their publications. If the authors primary field of research is in another field other than biomedical, consider using Scopus and/or Web of Science to conduct your primary search.
  • Past affiliations of the author(s). Some authors may have had different affiliations during their careers as researchers. Consider whether you would like to include these publications in the results of your search.


What is Name Ambiguity?

Name ambiguity refers to the use of inconsistent naming conventions for a single author or entity.

For example, the author, John Doe, can be referred to as J Doe or as JE Doe, depending on what name they chose to use when they published their manuscript. Or John Doe could have changed their last name at one point in their career, and can consequently have used more than one name in their publications.

Name ambiguity can also affect entities. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison can be referred to as UW-Madison, University of Wisconsin, etc., and departments may be referred to differently or may not be included at all in within an author's affiliation.

This is why it is important to try to account for different names and/or include author IDs in your search strategy.

What Information Will You Need?

The information you will need for your search will depend on how thorough you would like your search to be. Below is the information you may need for author searches and institution or department searches.

Basic, moderate, and high indicate how precise your search is projected to be with the addition of the specified information.

Author Searches:

  • Last name (basic)
  • First initial (basic)
  • Middle Initial (moderate)
  • Affiliation (moderate)
  • Past affiliations (moderate)
  • Author ID (e.g. ORCID, Scopus ID for Scopus searches) (high)

Institution or Department Searches

  • Institution name (basic)
  • Institution name variants (basic)
  • Department name (moderate)
  • Department name variants (moderate)
  • List of researchers in the institution or department (see author searches section of this box for precision) (high)

Contact Us!

The Ebling Library provides education, training, and consultation services in tracking the publications of researchers, units, and/or departments.

Projects for publication tracking (such as conducting searches and providing citation management support for publication tracking) are accepted on a case-by-case basis, and are dependent on librarian availability. Researchers, units, or departments requesting services are responsible for locating and compiling identifying information for groups of authors (such as affiliation or middle initials), reviewing retrieved publications, and any analyses of results from publication tracking.

For additional information, contact Paije Wilson ( or Trisha Adamus (