Web citation (fwd)

Garfield, Eugene Garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Wed Jun 19 13:27:27 EDT 2002

It is almost six weeks since Tom Wilson posted this message. Many others
forwarded copies to me expecting me to respond to his challenge.

It is always pleasant to learn that one's work has been mentioned on a
particular web site or that it is discussed in various courses. But while
they are newsworthy they havoc little real bearing on the use of citation
indexes to measure the impact of one's research.

When you are quite young anything helps boost the ego, but the bottom line
for the researcher is whether anyone has used his or her basic ideas in
ongoing research. Until that day of Nirvana arrives when everything will be
searchable on the web I am afraid web searching just won't be an adequate

If you are working in the life sciences you can find many relevant citation
connections through such full text resources as HighWire Press, but that is
not yet complete nor is it presented in a form that is easily used for
citation analysis. That day may come. Steve Lawrence's project at NEC which
provides citation indexing in context for the computer science literature
illustrate what happens when you have only partial coverage.

The ultimate objective of universal bibliographical control is to find it
all in one place, displayed in a fashion that is easily and quickly
comprehended. Gene Garfield

When responding, please attach my original message
Eugene Garfield, PhD. email:  garfield at codex.cis.upenn.edu
home page: www.eugenegarfield.org
Tel: 215-243-2205 Fax 215-387-1266
President, The Scientist LLC. www.the-scientist.com
Chairman Emeritus, ISI www.isinet.com
Past President, American Society for Information Science and Technology
(ASIS&T) www.asis.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Gretchen Whitney [mailto:gwhitney at UTK.EDU]
Sent: Monday, May 06, 2002 10:10 AM
Subject: [SIGMETRICS] Web citation (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 06 May 2002 12:25:22 +0100
From: Prof. Tom Wilson <t.d.wilson at SHEF.AC.UK>
Subject: Web citation

There have been a few mentions of Web citation searching possibly replacing
citation indexing in time and I wondered how many people are now, as a
matter of course, using counts of Web mentions in their cases for
appointment, tenure or promotion.

I looked at a couple of my own papers and counted the SSCI citations and
then searched for mentions of the papers on the Web - the results left me
wondering whether the reliance on citation indexing as a measure of
performance is now past its sell by date.

My most cited paper is "On user studies and information needs" (1981) - a
Web search (using Google) revealed 118 pages that listed the title. The
pages were reading lists, free electronic journals, and documents that would
never be covered by SSCI, such as reports from various agencies. SSCI
revealed, if I recall aright, 79 citations of the paper. The question is: is
the Web revealing impact more effectively than SSCI?  Citation in scholarly
papers takes a variety of forms and much citation is of a token variety - x
is cited because x is always cited. On the other hand citation on reading
lists implies some positive recommendation of the text, and mention in
policy documents and the like, implies (at least in some cases) that some
benefit has been found in the cited document.

It may also be that the use of Web citation would provide a more complete
measure - I discovered, much to my surprise, that a 1971 text of mine on
'chain indexing' is cited on one reading list and in the bibliography of a
document in German on classification. Greater international coverage is a
further benefit of using Web citation.

It strikes me that a move towards using Web citation as the measure of
performance would be rather more useful than the use of citation indexes.

No doubt others have looked at this issue - is any consensus emerging?

Tom Wilson

Professor T.D. Wilson, PhD
Publisher/Editor in Chief
Information Research
University of Sheffield
Sheffield S10 2TN
United Kingdom
Tel: +44-114-222-2642
E-mail: t.d.wilson at shef.ac.uk
Web site: http://InformationR.net/

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