Researchers like to create Google Scholar citation alerts so that they can know when someone cites a specific paper. It is an easy way to follow targeted subjects and understand how a certain paper is regarded in the literature. You can create a citation alert on any paper you are interested in regardless of whether you are an author or not. Well, almost any paper I should say. The Google Scholar interface does not allow you to follow papers that have not been cited yet (adding to the list of gripes I have for Google Scholar)! Alerts are created by clicking the “cited by” number and then clicking “create alert.” But for research articles that have not been cited yet, this “cited by” link does not appear in search results. Fortunately, I found an easy workaround by looking at the URL queries.
Step 1: Find the unique ID of the article you want to follow
You need to find the unique Google Scholar ID of the article or book you are trying to follow. Here is an example using an uncited paper of mine (as of July 2022). In the Google Scholar search result, click on one of the authors that has a Google Scholar profile. On the authors’ profile page, find the article entry and click the title. This will bring up the “view article” page, and at the bottom, you can see all articles that correspond to the article you are viewing (duplicates). Citation alerts are created based on these individual articles.
Right-click on the individual article entry and select “copy link address” (Chrome) or “copy link” (Safari), or an equivalent in your browser. If you paste the address into any text editor, it will look something like this:
Here the number after “
cluster=” (highlighted) is the unique ID you are looking for.
Step 2: Make the URL for citation views
Now concatenate the ID you found to the following URL:
In the example I showed above, the url would therefore become:
Step 3: Create an alert!
Go to this URL with your browser and you will see the “Create alert” button:
If none of the authors have a Google Scholar profile
For papers that don’t have any authors with a Google Scholar profile, other workarounds must be used (big thanks to Kaylene Stocking for finding these tricks and emailing me about them).
First, see if the paper has multiple versions gathered on Google Scholar. These are papers that have a link saying “All N versions.” If this is the case, then you can look at the URL of that link to find the cluster ID, similar to how it was done in Step 1 above. Then Step 2 and 3 are identical. In fact, this method is actually much easier than the original method I posted above. It is becoming increasingly common for authors to post preprints, so this method should be available in many cases.
If this method is not available, then there is another workaround that should always work. If you are logged in with your Google account, you can save papers to your reading list (hit “save” with the star icon). Then, go to your reading list and find the “edit” button under that paper entry. You might have to click the expansion arrow to make it show up. At the bottom of the box that pops up is a link to the article. The URL of this link also contains the cluster ID.
Last modified: Nov. 1st, 2022