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This guide explains how impact factor is used and calculated in journal and article rankings, as well as other methods of citation analysis.
Last Updated: Oct 29, 2013 URL: http://campusguides.lib.utah.edu/bibliometrics Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Law of Scattering

80% of the citations come from about 20% of the journals cited, identifying a core list for a local journal collection.

  • - Chung, H. (2007)
    Evaluating academic journals using impact factor and local citation score. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33(3), 393-402. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2007.01.016
 

Sample Bibliometric Map

Eigenfactor Social Science Citation Relationships 2004

(click on image to enlarge)

Thomson Reuters (ISI Web of Knowledge)

 

What is Bibliometrics?

  • The branch of library science concerned with the application of mathematical and statistical analysis to bibliography; the statistical analysis of books, articles, or other publications. ("bibliometrics, n.". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press.)

  • In other words…data about publications, or citation frequency.

  • Scientometrics is the branch of information science concerned with the application of bibliometrics to the study of the spread of scientific ideas; the bibliometric analysis of science. ("scientometrics, n.". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press.)
 

Why is this important?

Citation Analysis was originally conceived as a way to correct for subjective perception. Instead of just making an educated guess about the most prestigious journal in a field, citation analysis provides a mathematical measure of how many articles from the journal have been cited over a specific time frame, adding a measure of objectivity.

As a supplement to the peer review process, citation analysis can also be used to measure how an individual's publications have affected his or her field. This information is often used in making tenure decisions

Questions citation analysis can help answer:

A student asks you "What are the best journals in the field of Anthropology?"

A professor asks you "Who is citing my articles? How many times have I been cited?"

A student asks you "How do I know this article is important?"

A professor asks you "Which journal should I publish in?"

Bibliometrics affects:

  • People
  • Journal collections
  • Research Funding
  • Tenure
  • Expertise status in the field
  • Finding others in the field/subject area (using citation searching)

New Directions

New research is being done to define 'altmetrics' that also define a researcher's impact. The method of communication can vary but is outside of the traditional journal article.

  • Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact
    By Jason Priem, Heather A. Piwowar, Bradley M. Hemminger.

    "In growing numbers, scholars are integrating social media tools like blogs, Twitter, and Mendeley into their professional communications. The online, public nature of these tools exposes and reifies scholarly processes once hidden and ephemeral. Metrics based on this activities could inform broader, faster measures of impact, complementing traditional citation metrics."
  • Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online
    By Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2012

    "An approach called altmetrics—short for alternative metrics—aims to measure Web-driven scholarly interactions, such as how often research is tweeted, blogged about, or bookmarked."
  • Citation by Citation, New Maps Chart Hot Research and Scholarship's Hidden Terrain
    By Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, September 11, 2011

    "Imagine a Google Maps of scholarship, a set of tools sophisticated enough to help researchers locate hot research, spot hidden connections to other fields, and even identify new disciplines as they emerge in the sprawling terrain of scholarly communication."
  • Altmetrics in Evolution: Defining & Redefining the Ontology of Article-Level Metrics
    by Jennifer Lin and Martin Fenner

    The Public Library of Science (PLO S) first began to offer Article-Level Metrics (ALM )— including online usage, citations, and altmetrics—in 2009 to provide the research community with a view into the reach of our papers. Since 2009, the data sources in the PLOS suite, have experienced an upsurge and we have more ways to capture engagement with research outputs and more providers operating in this space than ever before. As a result, the existing landscape of ALMs and altmetrics is increasingly difficult to manage, understand, and navigate.To chart a future course for altmetrics, we need to organize the myriad metrics and make them trustworthy for all possible uses in research assessment. One important aspect of this is our ability to establish thoughtful and meaningful ways of grouping similar altmetrics together and distinguishing them from other altmetrics with different meaning.

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Handout

Here is a printable synopsis of the major concepts discussed in this guide created by Robin Kear at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

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Acknowledgments

This guide includes content adapted with permission from Robin Kear, Reference/Instruction Librarian, University of Pittsburgh, and Danielle Colbert-Lewis, Reference Librarian, North Carolina Central University.

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