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

From: Jack Meadows <A.J.Meadows_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 11:07:02 +0100

Journal self-citation was a moderately popular topic some years back.
Xhignesse and Osgood [Amer. Psych. vol.22, 778,(1967)] suggested a parallel
between increasing journal prestige and self-citation. One of my colleagues
and I did some work on this re astronomy journals back in the 1970s.
Astrophysical Journal had easily the most prestige together with the
highest self-citation rate. Of course, there are other factors that effect
this. For example, general science journals, such as Proc. Roy. Soc.,
usually have lower self-citation rates than more specialist journals.
Similarly, journals in specialisms that depend heavily on other subject
areas for their material tend to be low on self-citation.

Best wishes,

 At 12:41 AM 3/26/03 +0000, you wrote:
>On Tue, 25 Mar 2003, Bob Parks wrote:
>> You (Stevan) ought to be able to get to the JCR product on
>The UK national site license allows human access but not software-agent
>access, which is what we need (not just for this, but for a variety of
>other impact-related studies we want to do). We have been discussing
>the possibility of a collaborative research project with ISI, however,
>and if this goes forward then we could have a look at this too.
>> In,
>> they correct for self-citations
>I believe that's only for author self-citations, not for same-journal
>>sh>As a measure of "degree of egocentricity" relative to overall
>>sh>in/out/self citation patterns I (who am not a statistician!)
>>sh>would at first be inclined to look at the mean and standard error
>>sh>for the ratio: S = self/(in + out)
>>sh> T = in/(in + out)
>>sh>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... [but] I don't think ONE summary measure can capture
>> it very well, given the three in/out/self types.
>I agree that one measure will not be sensitive enough. We will
>experiment with this. (I think that "self" is part of "in" by the way,
>though I may be wrong.)
>>sh>It goes without saying that once the journal literature is open-access,
>>sh>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?
>I said it would be far less consequential. It is consequential in the
>toll-access era, because journal impact factors partly determine which
>journals are subscribed to (licensed) by institutions, and therefore
>they partly determine what we do and do not have (toll)-access to.
>When all the annual 2,000,000 papers in all 20,000 refereed journals
>are self-archived and openly accessible to all potential users web-wide,
>whether or not their institutions can afford a subscription (license)
>to the toll-access version, then it *matters* far less what the journal
>impact factor happens to be, whether or not it has been inflated, and
>whether or not a given institution, as a result, subscribes to
>(licenses) the toll-access version. The self-archived open-access
>version of everything is available to all would-be users in any case.
>Moreover, the scientometric correction for any inflated same-journal
>citations could even be corrected in authors' *personal* citation
>counts, if desired. The open database could be used in a much more
>powerful and flexible way by all users and evaluators of research
>productivity. (In other words, I may lose a few citation because they
>are detectably just part of the inflated same-journal citations of some
>journal they have appeared in. (But I hope you agree that this bit of
>fine-tuning is not likely to be very consequential either.)
>> 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?
>The core purpose served by journals in the UOA (universal open access)
>era will be exactly the same as it is now: to provide peer-review
>and to certify publication standards as having been successfully
>met (at that journal's established quality level). This is the core
>"publish-or-perish" function, and it remains unchanged. How long the
>further journal publication functions (paper version, publisher's
>online PDF, dissemination, storage, access-provision) will
>continue to be needed (and hence paid for) is not something
>that I or anyone can or need guess.
>All that needs to be understood is that once there is open access,
>no potential usage or impact will be lost because of inability to pay
>access tolls: and that is the *only* think open-access is about.
>(And, as I said, if there is still any residual temptation to inflate
>journal impact through same-journal citation, it will matter a good deal
>less, and will be a lot more detectable and correctable.)
>>sh>because there will be many direct measures of a paper's or author's
>>sh>research impact, among which the citation impact factor of the journal
>>sh>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.
>But who will care, since it is the impact of the research and the
>researcher that matters, not the impact of the journal (which is merely
>the average impact of the papers it publishes)?
>> 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.
>But I agree completely! The top journals (i.e., the ones exercising
>the most rigorous peer review and selectivity, hence maintaining the
>highest quality standards) will continue to be given due weight for
>that -- along with the weight coming from the article's and the author's
>various measures of research impact (usage ["hits"], citations, "authority
>co-citations," etc.). Research impact will not be estimated by just the
>one-dimensional measure consisting of the journal's average citation
>count, but by a rich and diverse regression equation, with multiple
>weighted predictors.
>Stevan Harnad
Professor A.J.Meadows
Information Science Department
Loughborough University
Leics. LE11 3TU
Received on Mon Mar 31 2003 - 11:07:02 BST

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