Friday, November 18, 2011

This week Google Scholar started a new service that allows scholars to track their citations: here's mine. I've been using Publish or Perish, and I probably will continue to do so because it offers much more functionality, but the Google Scholar list definitely has advantages, the primary one being that it is automatically updated. If you're not an academic, you're probably not aware of the trend of using citation measures to gauge the quality of academic publications, but for us it is a big deal.

One interesting feature of the Google Scholar service is that it shows you a graph of citations by year.  Mine shows four distinct periods to my career, which I've labelled A, B, C, and D below.

Period A was my tenure-track period, in which I was a young assistant professor trying to get tenure in the 1980s. The number of citations to my work went steadily up, reaching a peak when I started to do neural network research which got noticed.

Period B was the period during which I discovered the possibilities of video games in academia and ramped down my former research program. My time was spent trying to learn game programming and to fix its place in academia. In this I was a lone pioneer.

Period C was a very difficult period during which I became seriously ill and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My publication rate dropped precipitously. The citations for my former work dropped too, as neural networks dropped out of vogue.

In period D I was able to come to terms with the limitations that MS put on my life. That fortunately came at a time when new academic game journals and conferences began to proliferate, so I was able to publish the results of my game research with a new and eager group of PhD students, leading to a strong late-career uptick in citations.