No subject

Stephen J Bensman notsjb at LSU.EDU
Fri Jul 25 12:49:14 EDT 2008

I would bet on the librarians over the sociologist on this one.  My own
experience is that with JSTOR I have access to key older stuff like the
back issues of Biometrika that used to shatter on the Xerox machine but
now print nicely at desktop.  And I don't have to dig into compact
shelving, where I can be squeezed to death by the rolling shelving.
Sociologists have never been known to be expert in the use of libraries
and always seem to get lost outside their office collections.  


Stephen J. Bensman

LSU Libraries

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA   70803


notsjb at

From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
[mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Eugene Garfield
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 11:23 AM


Science 18 July 2008:
Vol. 321. no. 5887, p. 329
DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5887.329a

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of Contents
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News of the Week

Survey Finds Citations Growing Narrower as Journals Move Online

Jennifer Couzin 

Millions of scholarly articles have migrated online in recent years,
making trips to library stacks mostly obsolete. How has this affected
research, which depends on published work to guide and bolster academic
inquiry? A sociologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois argues
on page 395 <>
that the shift has narrowed citations to more recent and less diverse
articles than before--the opposite of what most people expected. 

Working solo, James Evans of the University of Chicago was curious about
how citation behavior has changed in the sciences and social sciences.
In theory, online access should make it quicker and easier for
researchers to find what they're looking for, particularly now that more
than 1 million articles are available for free. 

Relying on Thomson Scientific's citation indexes and Fulltext Sources
Online, Evans surveyed 34 million articles with citations from 1945 to
2005. For every additional year of back issues that a particular journal
posted online, Evans found on average 14% fewer distinct citations to
that journal, suggesting a convergence on a smaller pool of articles. In
other words, as more issues of a journal were posted online, fewer
distinct articles from that journal were cited, although there were not
necessarily fewer total references to that journal. It suggests herd
behavior among authors: A smaller number of articles than in the past
are winning the popularity contest, pulling ahead of the pack in
citations, even though more articles than ever before are available. The
average age of citations also dropped. Valuable papers might "end up
getting lost in the archives," says Evans. 

Oddly, "our studies show the opposite," says Carol Tenopir, an
information scientist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She and
her statistician colleague Donald King of the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, have surveyed thousands of scientists over the
years for their scholarly reading habits. They found that scientists are
reading older articles and reading more broadly--at least one article a
year from 23 different journals, compared with 13 journals in the late
1970s. In legal research, too, "people are going further back," says
Dana Neac u, head of public services at Columbia University's Law School
Library in New York City, who has studied the question. 

  <> Tight
focus. Citations to journals that have been online longer, according to
James Evans, tend to cluster around more recent dates.




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Eugene Garfield, PhD. email:  garfield at 
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Chairman Emeritus, ISI 
3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3302
Past President, American Society for Information Science and Technology


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