Studies showing that review articles get more citations

Nees Jan van Eck nvaneck at ESE.EUR.NL
Wed Feb 24 09:38:21 EST 2010

Dear Stevan and others,

Reviews indeed on average receive more citations than ordinary articles.
Some time ago I collected some data on this issue. See the attached Excel
file. The data (taken from Web of Science) is based on publications
published between 1999 and 2003. For each publication citations were counted
within a four year time window.

Some data can also be found in a paper by Lundberg published in Journal of
Informetrics in 2007 (

Note that the distinction between ordinary articles and reviews in Web of
Science is quite arbitrary and mainly determined by the number of references
of a publication. Publications with more than 100 references are (almost)
always regarded as reviews in Web of Science.

Best regards,
Nees Jan van Eck

Nees Jan van Eck MSc

Centre for Science and Technology Studies
Leiden University
P.O. Box 905
2300 AX Leiden
The Netherlands

Willem Einthoven Building, Room B5-35
Tel:      +31 (0)71 527 6445
Fax:      +31 (0)71 527 3911
E-mail:   ecknjpvan at

-----Original Message-----
From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
[mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:06 PM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Studies showing that review articles get more

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 8:51 AM, Tom Wilson <wilsontd at> wrote:

>  Is it really worth exploring?
>  I'd have thought it self-evident that, if you are looking for a 
> review of the literature, as most authors are, you'll site existing 
> reviews; similarly with methodology - if you are using a particular 
> theoretical perspective you'll want to cite others as confirmation that
you are on the right track.
>  One of the problems of bibliometrics appears to be a stunning 
> facility for determining the obvious :-)

It is obvious that reviews will cite reviews, and that authors will cite
supporting studies, but is it obvious that reviews are cited more than
ordinary articles? Perhaps; but it would still be nice to see the evidence.
Especially nice to see the evidence for review *articles* -- relative to
ordinary articles -- separated from the evidence for review *journals*
relative to ordinary journals.

There has also been some evidence that articles that cite more references
get more citations. Review articles usually cite more references than
ordinary articles (indeed, that is one of the criteria ISI uses for
classifying articles as reviews!). It would be nice to partial out the
respective contributions of these factors too (along, of course, with
self-citations, co-author citations, citation circles, etc.).

The outcomes may continue to be confirming the obvious, but it will still be
nice to have the objective data at hand... :-)

Stevan Harnad

> Tom Wilson
> On 23 February 2010 12:23, Jacques Wainer <wainer at> wrote:
>> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>> I used:
>> @Article{reviewpap1,
>>  author =       {Aksnes, D. W.},
>>  title =        {Citation rates and perceptions of scientific 
>> contribution},
>>  journal =      {Journal of the American Society for Information 
>> Science and Technology},
>>  year =         2006,
>>  key =          2,
>>  volume =       57,
>>  pages =        {169-185},
>> doi = {10.1002/asi.20262}}
>> @Article{reviewpap3,
>>  author =       {H. P. F. Peters  and  A. F. J. van Raan},
>>  title =        {On determinants of citation scores: A case study in 
>> chemical engineering},
>>  journal =      {Journal of the American Society for Information 
>> Science},
>>  year =         1994,
>>  volume =       45,
>>  number =       1,
>>  pages =        {39 - 49}}
>> as two references to the phenomenon. In this line, does anyone know 
>> of studies that point out that METHODOLOGICAL papers are also cited 
>> more than other research?
>> Thanks
>> Jacques Wainer
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Professor Tom Wilson, PhD, PhD (h.c.),
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Publisher and Editor in Chief: Information Research: an international 
> electronic journal Website - Blog - 
> Photoblog -
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> E-mail: wilsontd at
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