There is a popular saying in the academic world called “publish or be eliminated”, which means that in the highly competitive academic world, if no work is published for a long time, it will be brutally eliminated and henceforth has no value in the academic world. In recent years, the saying “no citation is eliminated” has also been put forward, emphasizing that the number of citations in an article is the only way to reflect its academic value and influence.
Perhaps inspired by this maxim of death, the British scholar Anne-Wil Harzing developed a software of the same name, Publish or Perish (PoP), to integrate the search results of literature databases, article citation data, academic impact and other information to support her academic career.
After downloading it for two days, this app, which is less than 10 M, has become the best literature search tool in my mind. Let’s take a look.
How do I use PoP to search for literature?
The most central part of the Publish or Perish main interface is to select the source of the retrieved article. It includes the most commonly used repositories, such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science, but users can also click on “Import” to import existing search results, see the documentation for supported formats.
PubMed can add an account API for higher transfer rates, and Crossref and OpenAlex recommend that users add an email address so that they can be contacted in case of errors. All of these options can be found and added in the settings.
Once you have selected the desired database, you are taken to the detailed search page .
Here, you can enter any information and keywords you want to search for and choose how many results you want to display. The default value is 1000, but I decided that 100 results would not be too stressful for beginners to read or miss out on important documents because of too few results, so I changed the default value to 100 directly in the settings.
Publish or Perish supports basic Boolean operators and wildcards when entering search information. The former includes the phrases AND, OR, and NOT (or, with, and without) to indicate how multiple words are related to each other.
However, Publish or Perish now only supports manual rule entry, unlike PubMed’s advanced search, where users enter various rules and automatically combine them to match, and cannot add RSS or alerts to search results.
Enter the desired keyword and click “Search” to bring up the results retrieved in the database, as shown in the above figure.
The default sorting method (Rank) is the same as the default result sorting in the database. Generally speaking, the higher the search result, the stronger the relevance of the article to the keyword. Of course, there is more than one ranking method in PoP. The information on each column heading, such as the number of citations, author name, year, etc., can be used as the basis for ranking, depending on the user’s needs.
Sometimes, the database will enter the same document multiple times. In this case, the documents can be merged by selecting one of the duplicates and dragging it to another identical document. The merged document will also recalculate the citation data. To unmerge them, right-click on the article and select “Split citations” to separate them.
After selecting any of the articles in the search results, the right sidebar shows more detailed information. The upper part shows more detailed citation data, such as h-index, average number of citations in the field, etc. At the bottom are article information, DOI and abstract.
Publish or Perish does not save PDF files of papers like the literature management software does. However, it offers a variety of links to articles: open at the publisher’s website, full text links, and “Find with Unpaywall” to redirect to the full text (open access) version of the paper if the publisher’s website does not support Open Access.
It is not difficult to import the search results from PoP into your literature management software. The following is an example of how Zotero can be used for importing into other apps.
Publish or Perish supports a variety of common literature management formats, including but not limited to CSV, BibTeX, and RIS, and you can also choose to export it to a citation format, and the resulting file will be in the written citation format.
Use Zotero to open the RIS file exported by PoP and select the import location to add the list of articles to the database. However, this will only add bibliographic entries, and you need to right-click “Find available pdfs” to automatically download the PDF file corresponding to the bibliography.
Note that there are two ways to export search results. If you select a search from the “Search Panel” above and right-click to export, then the export will be the “Search Results” of all the selected ☑️ literature entries; while if you select one or more articles from the “Search Results” and then right-click to export, only the selected one or more articles will be exported.
In addition, when searching for literature, it is often necessary to try multiple combinations of keywords, and it is also common to use multiple substitutions to increase the scope covered by the search results. In Publish or Perish, folders can be used to gather different search terms in the same field together for easy review. However, the drawback of this app is that the folders can only be sorted by first letter, not in a custom order. So if you have a need to sort, you may have to manually add numbers to adjust the order.
What else can PoP be used for?
The first thing that comes to mind is to use it to quickly learn about an unfamiliar field and do a simple literature review.
Enter keywords of interest in the field into the search box, and then filter the results to find articles with high citation counts, as well as authors and journals that appear more frequently. Although the number of citations cannot be fully linked to the quality of the article, articles with high citation counts usually have a high impact in the field, are valuable to many people, and are often worth reading. Authors and journals that frequently publish in the field are often leaders in the discipline as well, and following their article lists makes it more likely that valuable articles will be found.
Another concern is how the direction of research has changed over time. A sudden spike in the number of articles in a particular direction may indicate the emergence of certain new techniques and discoveries, and these changes may shed light on your own research.
This principle can also be used to get to know an unfamiliar scholar quickly, at a particular academic conference, or even when looking for a suitable mentor and preparing to magnetize with them. 1Harzing summarizes these issues she will focus on to help you get to know others better.
For me, this scenario does not require too complicated search criteria, just a few keywords to meet the requirements, and no RSS to alert me to the latest developments in the industry. After comparing the search results in Google Scholar, PubMed and PoP, I found that the results displayed by PoP meet my needs better than searching directly from the database website, and I can easily see the number of citations and full-text addresses, so now I think of PoP as the first place to search for articles and learn about new fields.
Secondly, it was Harzing’s original intention to develop this software – to help scholars better showcase their achievements and facilitate job searches.
She would select different reference groups, two or three scholars in each group with similar backgrounds to her own, and use PoP to analyze their data and compare it to her own, as shown in the table below. This table can be used to help understand your position in the academic circle, so that you can find a more suitable school and position; it can also be used to convince the school’s committee (committee) to prove your academic strength, so that you can be more convincing when seeking a promotion.
Finally, it is a matter of finding the right journal to publish your article in before it is published.
Many new academics are not sure what journals they should submit their articles to, so it is worthwhile to type in the keywords of the article in PoP, limit the time of publication, and see which journals others in the field have submitted their articles to. Consider the most common journals, look at the quality of their recent publications, get a sense of their writing style, compare their impact factors and citation counts, and consult your mentor’s experience and recommendations to find a relatively suitable option.
One more thing to do before publishing is to see if the article’s citation list cites articles from this journal. It is one thing for an editor to cite an article from his or her own journal, but if the journal has not published an article related to your work in the past, it is more likely to happen that the topic of the article does not fit with the journal and the readers may not be familiar with your field of research. At this point, a different journal may be a better option.
Publish or Perish is a literature search software that supports many literature databases, including Google Scholar, and can display citation counts, h-factors, and other metrics in the results.
In addition to searching literature, PoP can also help users to quickly learn about an unfamiliar field or unfamiliar scholars, find suitable journals for publication before submitting a manuscript, and better present their paper achievements when applying for a job, so as to walk more easily on the academic path.
You can download Publish or Perish for free from the official website, and it supports Windows, macOS and Linux systems.