Re: Query about journal (not author) self-citation rates

From: Bob Parks <bparks_at_WUECONC.WUSTL.EDU>
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 15:40:07 -0600

Stevan Harnad writes:
>On Tue, 25 Mar 2003, Small, Henry (Institute for Scientific Information)
>> Not aware of any systematic studies of these issues, although there are tons
>> of journal citation studies based on JCR. My guess is that authors alter
>> their citation patterns for specific journals because they think readers
>> will be more familiar with the prior literature in that journal and they a)
>> don't want to be seen as not citing something they should cite, or b) want
>> to cite what's relevant to readers. i.e. it's author not editor driven.
>Many thanks for your reply. I guess the first step is to confirm (1)
>*whether* there are disproportionately elevated same-journal citations in
>some journals, relative to other (comparable) journals and then, if so,
>(2) to try to infer what their causes might be, from their correlates. It

I know that I saw an article that used the ISI citation data to subtract
journal-self cites from journal-cites (because Econometrica was a big
winner in that ranking, being cited from both loads of economic journals
and stat journals). Alas a first pass at trying to find it resulted in

Looking around at ISI stuff,
  The JCRŽ satisfies the need for quantitative measures. It provides a
  detailed picture of the scientific literature. It shows the
  journal-to-journal relationships and permits the discerning
  user to track important trends or changes over the years

That would seem to indicate that the JCR product from ISI could
be used to subtract journal-self citations from journal citations
but I don't know. The references there (including a couple to
Garfield) might lead to finding whether and how journal self
citation might be handled.

You (Stevan) ought to be able to get to the JCR product on

they correct for self-citations
  "In order to correct for self-citations and the age of a journal
   we have constructed a new ranking of journals by excluding
   self-citations and all the cita-tions of articles published before 1994."

>should be possible, for example, to determine from cross-citation patterns
>(i.e., citations to other journals and vice versa) how "inbred" a journal
>usership is likely to be. If it is indeed inbred, then that supports
>the inference that authors (rightly) judge that their users are likely
>to rely mainly on that journal, and that they are unlikely to be users
>of other journals. If not, then we would have to look elsewhere for an
>explanation of disproportionate same-journal citation (if there is any).
>As a first pass, the following approximate (but only suggestive, because
>the underlying distributions don't meet its assumptions) analysis might
>work (for the JCR journals):
>As a measure of "degree of egocentricity" relative to overall
>in/out/self citation patterns I (who am not a statistician!)
>would at first be inclined to look at the mean and standard error
>for the ratio: S = self/(in + out)
> T = in/(in + out)
>and then for: 1/(T-S) as a rough measure of egocentricity.

Well that is (in +out)/(in - self) and I am not sure what
that really means.

I would think that self/(in + out + self) would be a better
first try. Near 1 is very egocentric and near 0 is not very
egocentric. I would also want (in)/(in + out + self) to tell
the WHOLE story, and I don't think ONE summary measure can capture
it very well, given the three in/out/self types.

But one could look at the methodogy in
for an adjusted impact factor (but they exclude self citations completely)
adjusted for size and impact.

(caveat: I just snarfed up
and do not attest for it, and don't know if it was published).

>It goes without saying that once the journal literature is open-access,
>potential journal-based biases like this will be far less consequential,

HUH? Why? If we have OA (complete, universal, all refereed articles),
AND we have journals, then why would journals (in that utopian future)
change their current biases?

So, is the 'consequential' bias "there is every temptation to get those
journal impact factors as high as possible" and that would go away in OA?
If journals serve the same purpose in the UOA (Utopian OA) as they do now,
won't that temptation be the same?

>because there will be many direct measures of a paper's or author's
>research impact, among which the citation impact factor of the journal
>in which the paper appeared will be a relatively minor one.

Well, I can only think within my own profession. If journals are
around in the UOA, I think that their 'rankings' will be about the
same and for the same reasons. Some will get higher, some lower,
but for the most part they will remain the same.

I don't see why what journal the article appeared in as being
a minor measure. The current situation is based on the referee
system and self selection. Top journals have top referees and
get top articles. UOA will not lessen that, and I doubt that
dept chairs, or deans will think that an article in a third
tier journal is worth much even if all of the other 'direct
measures' available in UOA are high.


(Gee, maybe Stevan and I can disagree on something)


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| Bob Parks                                          Voice: (314) 935-5665 |
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Received on Tue Mar 25 2003 - 21:40:07 GMT

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