Counting the number of times each citation is used in a Quarto document

Documenting this trick here for future me, six months from now.
Data science

April 10, 2023

I’m currently editing my candidacy exam – where I wrote what was effectively a review article on a subject adjacent to, but not within, my dissertation area – down into something that might be publishable. Part of that work has been trimming down the number of citations in the paper: my original exam had 300 individual citations, which is a bit much, and the places I’m looking at sending this paper generally restrict articles to 100 total cites.

As such, I’ve needed to trim down the number of citations used in this paper.1 To do that, I’ve been trying to figure out which sources were only cited a handful of times and could be easily removed. There’s plenty online about how to do that calculation with LaTeX, but I’ve been writing both my exam and this new paper in Quarto and was having a hard time getting those code snippets to work.

It turned out that I needed to use three fields in my document’s YAML header. Namely, I needed to set the cite-method of my document to biblatex, set the biblatexoptions field to citecounter=true, and then include a LaTeX snippet to actually print those citation counts to the text key below include-before-body:2

      cite-method: biblatex
      biblatexoptions: "citecounter=true"
        text: |
            (Cited \arabic{citecounter}~time\ifnumequal{\value{citecounter}}{1}{}{s})%

Now when you render your document, each citation entry will be followed by a small snippet of text reading “Cited X times”, where X is the number of times each reference was cited in your document.


  1. And to be clear, these are not 300 citations which are truly core to the paper’s argument. There’s a number of places in the paper where I more or less say “This line of work has been highly influential in later work”, and then cite every single article I read which cited the original study; this made a bit more sense in the context of “candidacy exam” where I was trying to demonstrate that I had comprehensively surveyed the literature, but isn’t something I’d ever do in published work.↩︎

  2. Is that key new? I could have sworn I used to provide raw TeX to the include-before-body field, but apparently now that needs to be a file name.↩︎