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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, July 02, 2004
  Co-citation Analysis Controversy
From previous posts, it's clear that I'm skeptical about many recent applications of citation analysis, bibliometrics, etc. No doubt this comes from my academic training. Author cocitation analysis (sometimes ACA) uses the statistical relationships of citations to articles to map the collaborativeness or interconnectedness of members of a community. For example, if a, b, and c write papers, and both d and e each cite these same papers, it can be inferred that d and e work in related research topics. When the numbers of authors and papers increase, or if the links are 2nd or 3rd hand (in other words, f cites d who cites a, b, and c), more complicated statistical methods are required to show the strength of the connection and the reliability of the measurement. Some of these methods are used in the various clustering tools.

In the new issue of JASIST (v55 n10, Aug 2004) there are more letters to the editor about author cocitation analysis and the use of Pearson's r as a measure of similarity (DOI: 10.1002/asi.20028, 10.1002/asi.20029). Pearson's r, aka the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, measures how well a linear equation describes a relationship between two variables. White and Griffith first came up with this use around 1980 and it's been argued about ever since. Specifically, the value of knowing that the relationship between the variables is linear and positive/negative and using that as a measure of similarity is in debate. The proponents say that r is easy to calculate and provides a good overview. The detractors say that there are a couple of examples where it breaks down. Both agree that qualitative information is required to provide real meaning (duh).

Some hot applications:

 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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