ResearchGate Citation Downloads considered Broken

5 minute read

Thanks to their SEO, ResearchGate articles top my search results when searching for specific scientific papers. Reference and citation managers like Zotero happily use the citation download feature of sites like ResearchGate, to automatically pull citation information for later use in publications.

However, this comes with a caveat: what if the citation information on ResearchGate is wrong or incomplete?

This happened to me just a few hours ago: our working student, Sophia, had been putting the final touches on our paper - and I reviewed it. It’s not the first time I checked her draft. Still, this time, almost by accident, I stumbled over an entry in the references section that drew my attention: it was published on pages 153-168 in volume 17 of May 2016.

“But what journal?” I asked myself. And why is this information missing anyway? Who tampered with the BibTex file? I went down a rabbit hole in the investigation that followed - until I found: it’s Zotero! No, it’s ResearchGate!

For some strange reasons, the “Download Citation” feature of ResearchGate seems to be broken.

Note to self: ALWAYS, and CAREFULLY check the references section! 😊

Examples from the paper at hand

I investigated the incorrect citations in our paper and always found the root cause in incomplete citation information provided by ResearchGate’s “Download Citation” feature. Here are the first two examples, right from our references section:

Example 1

Following the ResearchGate Citation Download Link, we get this:

@article{article,
author = {Liao, C. and To, P.-L and Wong, Y.-C and Palvia, P. and Kakhki, M.D.},
year = {2016},
month = {05},
pages = {153-168},
title = {The impact of presentation mode and product type on online impulse buying decisions},
volume = {17}
}

After some googling around, I found the missing information:

	journal={Journal of Electronic Research},

Example 2

Here, the ResearchGate Citation Download Link leads to this:

@article{article,
author = {Nass, Clifford and Foehr, Ulla and Somoza, Michael},
year = {2001},
month = {01},
pages = {},
title = {The effects of emotion of voice in synthesized and recorded speech}
}

The exact name of the booktitle was a bit harder to come by, but eventually, thanks to Google, I managed to find it:

booktitle = { {AAAI} symposium emotional and intelligent II: the tangled knot of social cognition},

Even our own papers!

I started to wonder: what if this is a systematic error? Would it even apply to our papers? So I went to my ResearchGate page (that I hadn’t touched in ages) and looked at “my” list of publications, containing the papers I co-authored.

I was shocked to find out that they all featured the same bug.

Paper 1

First comes Image Captioning with Clause-Focused Metrics in a Multi-modal Setting for Marketing. When you follow the ResearchGate Citation Download Link, you get this:

@inproceedings{inproceedings,
author = {Harzig, Philipp and Zecha, Dan and Lienhart, Rainer and Kaiser, Carolin and Schallner, Rene},
year = {2019},
month = {03},
pages = {419-424},
title = {Image Captioning with Clause-Focused Metrics in a Multi-modal Setting for Marketing},
doi = {10.1109/MIPR.2019.00085}
}

The booktitle= is missing.

If you follow the DOI, you will get to IEEE Xplore where the “Cite This” button actually works:

@INPROCEEDINGS{8695365,
author={P. {Harzig} and D. {Zecha} and R. {Lienhart} and C. {Kaiser} and R. {Schallner}},  
booktitle={2019 IEEE Conference on Multimedia Information Processing and Retrieval (MIPR)},   
title={Image Captioning with Clause-Focused Metrics in a Multi-modal Setting for Marketing},   
year={2019},  
volume={},  
number={},  
pages={419-424},  
doi={10.1109/MIPR.2019.00085}
}

Paper 2

Next, we check out Multimodal Image Captioning for Marketing Analysis with the ResearchGate Citation Download Link:

@inproceedings{inproceedings,
author = {Harzig, Philipp and Brehm, Stephan and Lienhart, Rainer and Kaiser, Carolin and Schallner, Rene},
year = {2018},
month = {04},
pages = {158-161},
title = {Multimodal Image Captioning for Marketing Analysis},
doi = {10.1109/MIPR.2018.00035}
}

The booktitle= is missing.

Again, IEEE Xplore works:

@INPROCEEDINGS{8396991,  
author={P. {Harzig} and S. {Brehm} and R. {Lienhart} and C. {Kaiser} and R. {Schallner}},  
booktitle={2018 IEEE Conference on Multimedia Information Processing and Retrieval (MIPR)},   
title={Multimodal Image Captioning for Marketing Analysis},   
year={2018},  
volume={},  
number={},  
pages={158-161},  
doi={10.1109/MIPR.2018.00035}
}

Paper 3

Last, we check Visual and Textual Sentiment Analysis of Brand-Related Social Media Pictures Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, with the ResearchGate Citation Download Link:

@inproceedings{inproceedings,
author = {Paolanti, Marina and Kaiser, Carolin and Schallner, Rene and Frontoni, Emanuele and Zingaretti, Primo},
year = {2017},
month = {10},
pages = {402-413},
title = {Visual and Textual Sentiment Analysis of Brand-Related Social Media Pictures Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks},
isbn = {978-3-319-68559-5},
doi = {10.1007/978-3-319-68560-1_36}
}

The booktitle= is missing.

Following the DOI and clicking on cite as, gives us the complete information:

Cite this paper as:

Paolanti M., Kaiser C., Schallner R., Frontoni E., Zingaretti P. (2017) Visual and Textual Sentiment Analysis of Brand-Related Social Media Pictures Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks. In: Battiato S., Gallo G., Schettini R., Stanco F. (eds) Image Analysis and Processing - ICIAP 2017. ICIAP 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10484. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-68560-1_36

The Exception

Curious about how widespread the issue is, I went on. I had a look at the publications (on ResearchGate) of my colleague, Carolin Kaiser, who has published far more than I have.

The first hit is the paper “Social media monitoring: What can marketers learn from Facebook brand photos?” published in the Journal of Business Research.

Here, the ResearchGate Citation Download works:

@article{article,
author = {Kaiser, Carolin and Ahuvia, Aaron and Rauschnabel, Philipp and Wimble, Matt},
year = {2019},
month = {09},
pages = {},
title = {Social media monitoring: What can marketers learn from Facebook brand photos?},
volume = {117},
journal = {Journal of Business Research},
doi = {10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.09.017}
}

The Exception to the Exception

So I checked out another paper of hers “Visual eWOM: Are Facebook Brand Photos a Sign of Brand Love?” from the 2016 AMA Summer Marketing Educators’ Conference in Atlanta, GA, which comes next in line on ResearchGate, when we skip the already mentioned ones.

Using the ResearchGate Citation Download

@inproceedings{inproceedings,
author = {Kaiser, Carolin and Ahuvia, Aaron and Rauschnabel, Philipp and Wimble, Matt},
year = {2016},
month = {08},
pages = {},
title = {Visual eWOM: Are Facebook Brand Photos a Sign of Brand Love?}
}

shows the same deficiency as my other examples:

The booktitle= is missing.

Conclusion

Something on ResearchGate is seriously broken. Some of the papers with missing citation information even show the conference or journal on the ResearchGate page like in our paper 1 example:

Image (c) ResearchGate

However, this information does not seem to make it into the downloadable citations easily. I don’t know if this is caused by an error in their extraction method when generating citation records, as I have no clue how ResearchGate produces the citations.

However, it is essential to know that ResearchGate citations are not trustworthy. Suppose you use them and don’t check the references section in your paper. In that case, the quality of this section and with it the overall quality of your essay might suffer unnecessarily.

What are your experiences? Are you affected by this, too? Let me know on Twitter.