JCR Total Cites Flaw Example

Stephen J Bensman notsjb at LSU.EDU
Fri Feb 22 14:10:52 EST 2008

Vis-à-vis what I wrote on the flaws of the JCR definition of bibliographic entity, I am posting the following concrete example


In 2003 the journal Animal Learning & Behavior, which is published by the Psychonomic Society, changed its title.  This title was published since 1973, and 30 volumes had been published at the time of the change.  Its new title was Learning & Behavior, whose volume numbering began thus: Vol. 31, no. (Feb. 2003)-.  As can be seen, the volume numbering is consecutive for the two titles, and it remained a journal of the Psychonomic Society.  From the viewpoint of logic and AACR2 cataloging rules, these two titles form a single bibliographic entity, which we shall call a "journal."


However, since these titles are not alphabetically consecutive, the JCR treats them as two different bibliographic entities, which we shall call "title segments."  The JCR citation counts relate only to these title segments.  In the 2004 JCR Learning & Behavior had 49 total cites and an impact factor of 1.030.  Since Animal Learning & Behavior fell within the 2-year time limit of the impact factor, it was still covered.  This title segment had 1,195 total cites and an impact factor of 2.059.  Going forward now to the 2006 JCR, we find that Learning & Behavior has 241 total cites and an impact factor of 1.926.  Since Animal Learning & Behavior is now outside the two-year impact factor limit, it has dropped from JCR coverage, and it is impossible to retrieve citation data on this title segment through the JCR.


It is quite obvious from the above that 2006 JCR is giving quite a false picture of the importance of Learning & Behavior as measured by total cites, which I have found to be a better surrogate for expert ratings and library use than the impact factor.  The historical perspective has been lost due to a logical flaw in the definition of a bibliographic entity.  In any type of statistical research involving total cites, Learning & Behavior will appear as a screaming outlier that distorts all results.


Since the fault cannot be corrected through the JCR, it becomes a question of how do you use Web of Science to recover the lost data.  If there is a solution to this problem, it should also be applicable to journals not covered in the JCRs. 



Stephen J. Bensman

LSU Libraries

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA   70803


notsjb at lsu.edu


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