Citation analysis

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 27 May 2017


See also Altmetrics | Author impact metrics | Bibliometrics | Impact factors | ImpactStory | Scopus vs. Web of Science | Webometrics

"...citation analysis is a bibliometric tool that is becoming increasingly popular to evaluate the performance of different actors in the academic and scientific arena, ranging from individual scholars (1–3), to journals, departments, universities (4), and national institutions (5), up to whole countries (6). The outcome of such analysis often plays a crucial role in deciding which grants are awarded, how applicants for a position are ranked, and even the fate of scientific institutions. It is then crucial that citation analysis is carried out in the most precise and unbiased way...." — Radicchi, 2008

Citation analysis (also citation indexing) is a type of bibliographic tracking activity (or subset of bibliometrics). CA is typically performed to evaluate published articles within the academic and scholarly communities. As a field and discipline, it was originally described by Eugene Garfield at the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) which subsequently created citation indexes in 1961 (see the Scopus vs. Web of Science). Due to changes in scholarly publishing and open access, newer statistical citation methods (including combining them) have emerged in recent years. Google's PageRank algorithm, for example, is a kind of web-based tracking tool based on popularity, first and foremost, but also on citation analysis principles, where links leading to similar articles provide a higher pagerank. It is possible to do simple citation analysis using Google scholar, for example. Some recent methods have been performed using Google scholar and social media such as Mendeley and Zotero but come under criticism by various academics such as Peter Jacso.

  • a model for assessment of research impact

Background to citation analysis

For promotion and tenure, faculty are expected to track articles citing their academic outputs whether they are papers, books or book chapters. Bibliometrics, or cited reference searching, is a way to analyze the scholarly output of authors within specified disciplines. This tracking is a quantitative method of determining impact, and a kind of ego-surfing. While Google scholar provides free access to some of this data via its cited by feature, generally this type of data-mining requires a structured database with cited reference search features. Finding occurences of authors and articles in footnotes and bibliographies of publications in print and digital formats is the main purpose of these tools. One of the best sources for this type of searching is Scientific Thomson's Web of Science (WoS). As a proprietary tool it requires a subscription to access it. The Web of Science (WoS) is a multidisciplinary database that contains the Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index and Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Another important proprietary tool for citation analysis is Scopus developed by the European publisher, Elsevier. Scopus provides cited reference searching for a range of scientific, technical, medical and social sciences literature. In 2014, Scopus announced a new journal metric called Impact per Publication (IPP). IPP measures the ratio of citations per article published, and provides an additional metric for comparing and evaluating journals. Access the IPP metric from the "Compare journals" tool in Scopus.


According to Acharya A et al. Rise of the rest: the growing impact of non-elite journals. arXiv. 16 October 2014, the idea of non-elite journal articles (traditionally, those that have not been cited much) have started to be cited more in the last ten years due to Google scholar.

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