Citation concentration debate

Once again, the folks at hangingtogether are my source for new research — in Efficiency and scholarly information practices, they describe a new study published in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology : JASIST that purports to refute an earlier study published in Science magazine that shows that as journal content becomes available online, citations get narrower.

(Full citation: See: Larivière, Vincent, Yves Gingras, and Eric Archambault. “The Decline in the Concentration of Citations, 1900-2007.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology : JASIST. 60. 4 (2009): 858-862. Stanford-only link).

The original article “Electronic Publishing and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship”, by friend and colleague James Evans, attracted quite a bit of attention (I wrote a bit about it myself), so I am not surprised that someone has already tried to replicate (or refute) his findings.

In “The Decline in the Concentration of Citations, 1900-2007.” the authors claim that contrary to Evans’ findings, citations are becoming increasingly dispersed over time. The major problem here is that Evans has done a fairly sophisticated analysis (including negative binomial models) that controls for time. This allows him to isolate the estimated effect of journal online availability on trends and patterns of citations. In contrast, Lariviere, Gingras, and Arhambault readily admit that their models “do not take into account ‘the online availability’ variable.”

In other words, the study that claims to refute Evans’ work actually fails to account for the key independent variable, and instead shows simple trends over time.

2 Responses to “Citation concentration debate”


  1. 1 Constance April 3, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Chris — thanks for the shout-out for HangingTogether. I thought it was passing strange that Larivière et al. claim to have categorically refuted Evans’ study while acknowledging that their own work doesn’t examine the impact of online availability. In fact, that’s the bit I originally planned to blog about–but the observations on disciplinary differences were too good to pass up, since we’ve been talking about this quite a lot in our research group.
    I’d be interested to hear more about how GBooks are being used by undergrads at Stanford. Maybe we could get you up to San Mateo to talk about this…
    Constance

    Like

    • 2 Chris April 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

      Constance-
      I’m also quite interested in the bit about disciplinary differences in scholarly practices, and (thanks to you) will be reading the Palmer report this weekend. I just had to write a bit about the methods, since I am a bit of a methods/stats geek …

      Re: Undergrads and Google Books — we will actually be adding a question about use of Google Books to our end-of-quarter survey this quarter, so may have even more info to report by end of June. I’d love to come talk about what we learn …

      Like


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