In theory, creating a citation alert with Google Scholar is easy. Search for the paper, click on the "Cited by X" link just below the result, scroll down and click on "Create alert", and finally confirm by clicking on "Create alert".

However this works only for articles that already have at least one citation. If an article has never been cited, the "Cited by X" link doesn't show up. This is annoying because as an academic researcher I would like to be alerted when a given article is cited for the first time. Do you know of a way to work around that limitation?

  • There are ways to create citation alerts outside of google-scholar (and, in some cases, these are field specific). One example is the Thompson Reuters Web of Knowledge Citation Alert. Indiana University has a helpful list of how to create Journal and Search Alerts from a pretty wide array of databases. Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 16:42
  • I'd like to avoid using 10 different alert systems for 10 articles published by different publishers. Plus these systems usually only track citations of papers published by them. But thanks for the link anyway, it can turn out to be useful. I also know Web of Knowledge, but it's usually lagging behind and not tracking as many citations as Scholar, plus it's behind a pay-wall and not available everywhere.
    – Calimo
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 8:09

3 Answers 3


Short version

Replace the pound signs in the following URL with the cluster number of the article of interest https://scholar.google.com/scholar_alerts?view_op=create_alert_options&hl=en&alert_params=hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D2005%26cites%3D####################%26scipsc%3D.

Long version

None of the other couple of answers worked for me, so I found a new way of doing this. It involves finding the cluster number of your article, as described by @Calimo in the other answer and then modifying the alert URL of an already created alert.

  1. Click the Save button under a search result that is pointing to the paper of interest (this adds that paper to your library)

  2. Open My Library, click on the article, and then scroll down to find "scholar articles" - that link (but not the one at the top) contains the 20 digit identifier you need. Copy this link and paste in into a text editor. The number after cluster= is the one you want.

  3. Search for an article that you know has citations and click "Cited by".

  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the first page where there is a little mail icon that says "Create alert". Right click and copy this URL and paste it into your text editor.

  5. In the alert URL, replace the number that comes after cites%3D, with the cluster number from your article of interest.

  6. Copy and paste this new URL into your browser and a page will appear asking if you want to create an alert for this article.

While it seems like the final URL always follows the same format, I outlined the entire process in case that URL would change in the future.


Step 2 URL


Step 4 URL


Final Alert URL


  • 1
    basically, go to the scholar's profile page who published that article, then retrieve the cluster ID there.
    – Jerry T
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 1:55
  • This does not work for me. I cannot find the cluster id.
    – desmond13
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 8:43
  • @desmond13 Another way to find the cluster ID is to first search for an article and then click the link that says something like "All 18 versions". Then you get an URL with the cluster id like this https://scholar.google.se/scholar?cluster=3568708134260123033&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5 Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 16:25
  • @joelostblom, thanks for your comment but I don't have the "all XX versions" in the article I am looking for. There is only a link to one PDF. Do you have a solution in this case?
    – desmond13
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 11:48
  • 2
    @desmond13 Seems like this works: Click the star to save the article -> Got to "My library" -> Click the checkbox of the newly saved article -> Click the pen in the tool bar to Edit the article -> Right click the link at the bottom of the pop up, where it says "Scholar articles" and copy it. This link contains the cluster id. Quite the process! Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 15:17

Short answer:

  1. Get the cluster ID (20 digits) of your article
  2. Plug it in the end of the following URL: https://scholar.google.ch/scholar?oi=bibs&hl=en&as_sdt=5&cites=
  3. Click on the "Create alert" button in the left pane of the page.

Long answer

Prerequisites: you need a Google Scholar profile for this.

1. Find the cluster ID of your article

(This exact procedure requires the paper to be in your library. Otherwise you'll need to be creative, the cluster ID is available in many other ways.)

  1. On "My Citations" page, you have a table with 3 columns: "Title / Author", "Cited by" and "Year". Scroll down until you reach your uncited article and click on its linked title.
  2. A modal window with more details about the article opens. At the bottom of the window, you have a line that is entitled "Scholar articles". Hover this link and notice it contains with cluster= followed by a large number.
  3. Copy this link (right click > Copy Link Location in Firefox looks like the easiest way to go) and save the long 20-digits number after the cluster= part (something like 12909901205937540955). This number is the cluster ID of your article in Scholar's database.

2. Find the current citations search URL

  1. Go back to your profile, and click on any number in the Cited by column. This performs a search for citations of an article with a citation.
  2. Check the URL of this page: it ends with an other 20-digits ID of an article with citations after the cites= part.
  3. If you don't have any cited paper, do a normal search and use the "Cited by" link underneath a search result instead.
  4. You should get something like this (as of September 2018): https://scholar.google.ch/scholar?oi=bibs&hl=en&as_sdt=5&cites=.

3. Get the citations page

  1. Now plug 1 and 2 together, for instance https://scholar.google.ch/scholar?oi=bibs&hl=en&as_sdt=5&cites=12909901205937540955
  2. Open this page in your browser.
  3. On the page that loads, you'll see "Sorry, we didn't find any articles that cite..." Despite this fact, you have a "Create alert". This link will now allow you to create a citation alert for your article.
  • 1
    Great workaround - in step 6 you say to replace the number with one found in step 7, do you mean 3? Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 9:03
  • @user56273 Your edit would have deserved to be written as a full answer!
    – Calimo
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 11:21
  • Does this still work for you? When I load the page in step 8, there is no "Create Alert" link anymore for me =( Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 14:06
  • I found a new way of doing this, which is working for me. See my answer for details. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 14:54

Google Scholar allows you to create search alerts, which don't depend on your article having already been cited. You could create search parameters for your paper and create an alert:

  • Do a search
  • Click on the Alerts icon at the top (the envelope)
  • Sign in
  • Create and name the alert

Google Scholar Search Alert

As I mentioned in my comment, Indiana University's Journal and Search Alerts page offers guidelines for creating citation alerts through a number of academic journal databases (including EBSCO, JSTOR, SAGE, SpringerLink and Web of Knowledge).

Their Have You Been Cited? guide is also useful for Web of Science and Web of Knowledge citations.

  • Unfortunately this will create an alert on the search query (new articles matching your search criteria), not on the citations of the article you queried.
    – Calimo
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 8:00
  • @Calimo depending on the format of references in your field (and how common your last name is) you could look for the exact words for an inline citation Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 8:39
  • This is very likely to be different in each journals, especially when your paper applies to a broad range of fields. At least I couldn't come up with anything working (even the title of the article is sometimes not part of the reference).
    – Calimo
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 8:54
  • @Calimo Word. That's gotta be some paper! At least in that case I'm sure it'll be cited soon enough! (Alternatively- grad students make excellent human citation alerts... kidding, sort of :D ) Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 8:59
  • Well, the thing is I don't want to miss citations just because they were in a different format. There is really no standard format in my field (computational biology). I have really no idea where the citations could pop up, and they might be from something quite unrelated, who knows? I just don't want to take the risk.
    – Calimo
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:57

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