Three Black Women Top the Rankings of African Americans in the Google Scholar Database

In the previous issue of JBHE we determined from our analysis of the database of the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia that William Julius Wilson of Harvard University was cited more times in academic journals in the social sciences in 2005 than any other black scholar.

The new Google Scholar search tool at enables us to gauge the academic work of black academics on a similar basis but with significant differences. The Google database contains references to scholars in articles posted online as well as in print. Also, references to scholars within the text of the article are counted, not just those citations that appear in footnotes. Another major difference is that the Google Scholar database is not date sensitive. Google Scholar has information from articles posted online from many different years.

JBHE’s count finds that Toni Morrison, with a total of 8,180, has the most citations among black academics in the Google Scholar database. The poet bell hooks has 4,720 citations. Novelist Alice Walker had the third-highest citation count among black scholars in the Google database.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University was mentioned more often than any other black male scholar. His 3,700 mentions were less than one half of Toni Morrison’s total. Other black scholars in the top 10 in the Google Scholar ranking are Paul Gilroy, Cornel West, Chinua Achebe, and Wole Soyinka. William Julius Wilson, who is the most cited black scholar in our citation analysis of printed articles published in the social sciences in 2005, ranks tenth in the Google Scholar listings.