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Getting Started

Would you like to get started with CitNetExplorer? Below we provide a step-by-step tutorial that guides you through the process of collecting bibliographic data, constructing a citation network, and visualizing and analyzing the network.


The tutorial is also available in a PDF file.

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  • paola moscoso February 21st, 2017 12:38 pm
    Great free tool. One question, which is the minimum number of references needed for running the clustering option? I am trying with different options but it appears that due to minimum size requirement they can't be clustered. Do you have any additional tutorial or recommendation for managing other options that are not explaining in this tutorial (e.g. I am trying to find the option for connecting the lines between nodes, but I just don't find it!-as Ian below-).
    Many thanks,
  • Gaurav Maheshwari December 6th, 2016 8:21 am
    Does this support the data extract from Scopus database. Is there any way to use the Scopus data for citation analysis.
    Best regards
    • Ludo Waltman December 10th, 2016 4:21 pm
      Unfortunately, CitNetExplorer doesn't yet offer Scopus support. However, there is a workaround. You can use another tool, CRExplorer (available at www.crexplorer.net), to open your Scopus data files and to save them as Web of Science data files. The Web of Science data files that you have obtained in this way can be opened by CitNetExplorer. In this indirect way, CitNetExplorer can work with Scopus data.
  • Ian October 20th, 2016 4:59 am
    Great program, the connecting lines between nodes seem to have disappeared on my visualization. I can't work out how to bring them back. Any advice much appreciated.
  • Silvia Vicente August 29th, 2016 11:01 am
    Some references could be very old and do not right include (Annonymus). Could we introduce changes in the publication list to rename the reference?
    • Ludo Waltman August 30th, 2016 11:08 pm
      Assuming that you are working with data downloaded from Web of Science, you could edit the Web of Science files using a text editor. In that way, you can make changes to the references. However, this is quite complex and this needs to be done in an extremely accurate way, otherwise CitNetExplorer will no longer be able to process the Web of Science files.
      Alternatively, after you have loaded a citation network in CitNetExplorer, you can save it using the 'Save' button. You will obtain two files, a publications file and a citations file. You can edit the publications file using a text editor (or using a spreadsheet program such as MS Excel) and you can then make changes to the data on individual publications.
      • Silvia August 31st, 2016 12:31 am
        Thank you! I'm working with WOK - essential colection ok. Your solution concerns me because I fix several *.txt files (exportation is in groups of 5) and I have to do it by hand because in MsDos do not work for the initial headlines. The reference is old but I' ll try to do it because the year woukd be easy to find. Thanks!!
  • Alex April 8th, 2016 7:27 am
    Hello! I enjoy the idea of the software presented here, but when I attempt to save my records of interest from Web of Science, I am unable to download reference information. The dropdown menu for Record Content is only "Author, Title, Source" and "Author, Title, Source, Abstract", and the "Full Record and Cited References" option has been evidently removed.
    What can I do to still use CitNetExplorer?
    Thanks for any insights!
    • George April 8th, 2016 10:52 am
      Dear Alex,
      I can still see these options on the web of science ISI. After selecting an article, click on Save to other file formats (dropdown bar on top of the article title) and then on the pop up window select Full record and cited references from Record Content and then tab delimited-Win on the file format for the extraction on a txt format.
      Hope that helps, George
    • Nees Jan van Eck April 8th, 2016 1:24 pm
      Alex, most likely you are not using the Web of Science Core Collection. When you go to the online Web of Science, by default the ‘All Databases’ option is selected. You need to change this into ‘Web of Science Core Collection’. I expect that this will solve your problem.
      • Nils Kvilvang May 1st, 2016 6:06 pm
        HI - I experienced the same problem. I do, however, think that it could also be dependent on what access your insitution have (?). I tried through two institutions, both have access to Web of Science. Through one of them, I had the same problem - there was no "Full record..." option. I struggled a lot with this, but when I tried accessing through the other institution, it was readily there. SO, I don't know if there are different services bought from the two institutions, but there was a difference...
  • chad March 9th, 2016 3:24 am
    I imported a bunch of records from Web of Science which have definite citation relations among them.
    But no citation links are showing up
    Why is that?
    • chad March 11th, 2016 12:10 am
      I looked at the way I imported the records from Web of Science and realized I had made a mistake.
      I had left the citation data out.
      I just did a full import of all the fields from WOS and now it works :)
  • Juan March 1st, 2016 7:57 pm
    Does anyone casually have any macro for exporting scientometric / bibliometric entities from VantagePoint software to CitNetExplorer so that citation trees can be created?
    I do have one macro for exporting from VantagePoint to VOSViewer which I obtained from VantagePoint Institute webpage (MakeVOSfromatrix.vpm).
    Otherwise I will have to program one myself by VBA scripting :-)
    Thank you :-D
  • George February 8th, 2016 10:21 am
    Hello, thanks for providing such a useful tool! I d like to ask you about articles or Ebooks that are not available on WebofScience such as OECD reports or Word bank articles. Is there any way that I can include these in my network?
    Thanks in advance,
    • Nees Jan van Eck February 8th, 2016 4:31 pm
      Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this. OECD reports, Word Bank articles, and other publications that are not available in Web of Science cannot easily be included in a citation network that is analyzed using CitNetExplorer. If you want them to be included, you need to do your own processing of the references contained in these publications. You can then create your own publications and citations files and these files can be opened by CitNetExplorer. In this way, publications not available in Web of Science can be analyzed using CitNetExplorer, but it may take quite a lot of effort to preprocess the data in such a way that it can be used as input for the software. Please note that, if the ‘Include non-matching cited references’ option is turned on in CitNetExplorer, publications not available in Web of Science can be included in a citation network that is analyzed using CitNetExplorer if these publications occur sufficiently often (10 times by default) in the reference lists of other publications that are available in Web of Science.
      • George February 8th, 2016 4:47 pm
        Thanks for the reply! I checked that option and also changed the minimum number to 3. However, I get some new references with anonymous author name or not available source. Do you have any recommendation for that?
        • Nees Jan van Eck February 9th, 2016 12:56 pm
          Probably you are encountering the following issue. Cited references in Web of Science include only limited information. For instance, they include the name of the first author only, not of other authors, and they do not include the title of an article. For this reason, when cited references are included in a citation network that is analyzed using CitNetExplorer, some data elements are usually missing.
          • george February 9th, 2016 12:58 pm
            Fair enough, thanks for the support.
  • Suggestion December 9th, 2015 6:19 pm
    It would be a great idea to make in the future the software open source so that people can colaborate and make it even better :D
  • Josetxo December 7th, 2015 1:04 pm
    Thank you :-)
    Excellent software.
    It helped me a lot with my University work.
  • kathryn June 9th, 2015 2:44 pm
    hallo- kathryn again. Could you tell me if there's a way to merge publications if they are duplicates?
    • Nees Jan van Eck June 10th, 2015 12:51 pm
      Merging duplicate publications is not possible in CitNetExplorer. There is a solution, but this solution is somewhat technical. In CitNetExplorer, you can save a citation network into a publications and a citations file. These are simple text files that can be edited using a text editor or using a spreadsheet program such as Excel. In the publications file, each line represents a publication. If you want to merge two publications, you need to remove the line corresponding with one of the two publications. In the citations file, each line represents a citing link between a citing and a cited publication. After removing a publication from the publications file, you need to update the citations file in order to make sure that there are no citation links for which either the citing or the cited publication has been removed. Such citation links need to be updated. For instance, if the citing publication has been removed, it needs to be replaced by the corresponding duplicate publication.
  • YOO March 23rd, 2015 9:53 am
    Very interesting tool :)
    One question: I can't download citation data of Web of Science. I know that CitNetExplorer has its own file format. where can I find CitnetExplorer's format?
    can I use it easyily?
  • David December 16th, 2014 7:54 pm
    Very useful tool. Do you have any other tips for extracting citation information from Web of Science? Two examples of trouble I've experienced with sending WoS information to a file:
    1. If I send the information for a single article to a file, the cited references fields in the output file don't contain all information (e.g. the title isn't included).
    2. If I browse from the page displaying a single article to the list of cited references (for me, there's a link on the right side of the page labeled 'X cited references'), I no longer have the option to save 'Full Record and Cited References' from the dropdown. I don't see anything relating to the "Core Collection" you mention below. Interestingly, browsing to the page displaying articles which cite the current article does allow me to export 'Full Record and Cited References'.
    This would be useful for constructing a "forward and backward" citation network.
    • Ludo Waltman December 18th, 2014 1:02 pm
      1. In Web of Science, when saving bibliographic data into a file, only partial information about cited references will be available. For instance, only the first author of a cited reference will be listed. Also, the title of a journal article will not be listed. The journal name, on the other hand, will be included.
      2. When you look at the list of the cited references of a publication in Web of Science, it is indeed not possible to save these cited references. In Web of Science, you can save bibliographic data on publications included in Web of Science. This will then also include some data on the cited references of these publications. Directly saving the cited references is not possible. Please note that, when CitNetExplorer constructs a citation network based on Web of Science files, cited references occurring in a sufficiently large number of publications (by default 10) will be included in the citation network (with incomplete data, so only first author and no title).
  • Andrea October 28th, 2014 11:53 am
    Very interesting tool!
    One question: is it possible to use other referencies sources, like scopus?
    Or the input file must be a specific one?
    Many thanks
    • Nees Jan van Eck October 29th, 2014 9:30 am
      CitNetExplorer does not offer support for processing Scopus files. This is a feature that may be added in the future, although we have no concrete plans for this at the moment. Currently CitNetExplorer offers support only for processing Web of Science files. CitNetExplorer also has its own file format. This file format can be used to input Scopus data into CitNetExplorer, but you then need to do a lot of preprocessing yourself, which can be quite complex.
  • Adalberto Brant August 1st, 2014 4:40 am
    Thanks for the tool I am newbie and found the tool more easy to use than pajek , gephi and vosviewer.
    It is possible to look for the journal name steady of author ??? How could I do it ?
    • Ludo Waltman August 1st, 2014 4:15 pm
      In the visualization of a citation network, CitNetExplorer has the restriction that publications can be labeled only using an author name, not using the title of the journal in which they have appeared. You can choose between the last name of either the first or the last author of a publication. When searching for publications on the 'Publications' tab in CitNetExplorer, it is possible to search based on journal title.
  • Lorenz Hauser June 6th, 2014 1:39 am
    This looks like a very useful program. However, WoS has a download limit of 500 citations - what if I want to download more than that? Can input files be combined?
    • Ludo Waltman June 6th, 2014 7:38 am
      Yes, input files can be combined. You can simply download from Web of Science as many files as you need in order to cover all publications that you are interested in. All downloaded files can then be opened simultaneously in CitNetExplorer. In the file chooser dialog box in CitNetExplorer, you can select multiple files by clicking on them while pressing the CTRL key.
      • Hanh La January 23rd, 2017 2:08 pm
        After downloading many files, I opened them simultaneously, but only a part of them are visualised. For example, my dataset contains publications from 1980 to 2017, but only the publications from 2013 to 2017 are visible.
        Do you have any idea about this? I downloaded them in the same format before.
  • Tim Evans May 7th, 2014 5:48 pm
    Looks like a very interesting piece of software. I like the use of java to make it cross-platform friendly and it loaded perfectly on my Windows machine. I gave it my usual 15 minutes for any new software. The tutorial is very good for that first go but in my case I ran into a problem. The Web of Science licence here at Imperial appears not to let me download the citations of selected papers (just author, title, source and abstract) so I couldn't go any further. Perhaps an example input file you know works could be provided at a later date? Usually I would give up on software if I don't get anywhere pretty quickly but in this case it looks really useful so will give this more time when I get a chance. If I can construct some input files using open access data I will pass it along.
    • Ludo Waltman May 10th, 2014 11:28 am
      Thanks Tim for your feedback on CitNetExplorer. Did you select the 'Web of Science Core Collection' database? Usually, when people have problems downloading citation data, they are working in the 'All Databases' mode rather than the 'Web of Science Core Collection' mode. Using the 'All Databases' option, it is indeed not possible to download citation data.
    • Sara June 25th, 2015 11:51 am
      I 'd really like to get this to work, too. You don't include any information about connecting to a citation database. I can only access WoS through my university's VPN in a browser. I have no idea how to tell your program how to get behind it. What am I supposed to do?
      I can't imagine I am alone here with this. And what is with Google Scholar? That would be sort of obvious, wouldn't it.
      In any case I succeeded in importing my bib from Citavi, (more or less), but I just can't move on from there.
      Surely this is not supposed to be a solution only for people that are physically working on machines within university networks....?
  • Per Ahlgren March 11th, 2014 10:47 am
    Hi Nees Jan and Ludo,
    Good job! My impression is that CitNetExplorer is a well-made and usable tool. I went through the tutorial, which is a nice and informative introduction to the tool.
    Perhaps you should write something on the web site of CitNetExplorer (and on the site of VOSwiever) on memory use. It might be the case that the default maximum value regarding Java is too high for the machine of the user. In that case, the user needs to set the maximum value (ex: -Xmx512M). A short instruction on this issue might be proper.
    Greetings from Uppsala,
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