New Research Article: “Characterizing In-Text Citations in Scientific Articles: A Large-Scale Analysis” (Preprint)
The following article was recently shared on arXiv.
Characterizing In-Text Citations in Scientific Articles: A Large-Scale Analysis
Kevin W. Boyack
Nees Jan van Eck
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
We report characteristics of in-text citations in over five million full text articles from two large databases – the PubMed Central Open Access subset and Elsevier journals – as functions of time, textual progression, and scientific field. The purpose of this study is to understand the characteristics of in-text citations in a detailed way prior to pursuing other studies focused on answering more substantive research questions. As such, we have analyzed in-text citations in several ways and report many findings here. Perhaps most significantly, we find that there are large field-level differences that are reflected in position within the text, citation interval (or reference age), and citation counts of references. In general, the fields of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Life and Earth Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering have similar reference distributions, although they vary in their specifics. The two remaining fields, Mathematics and Computer Science and Social Science and Humanities, have different reference distributions from the other three fields and between themselves. We also show that in all fields the numbers of sentences, references, and in-text mentions per article have increased over time, and that there are field-level and temporal differences in the numbers of in-text mentions per reference. A final finding is that references mentioned only once tend to be much more highly cited than those mentioned multiple times.
Direct to Full Text Article (22 pages; PDF)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.