What Is Citation Analysis?

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  • Written By: Meghan Perry
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Citation analysis is a type of research in the field of library and information science. At its most basic, it involves counting the citations in scholarly articles, specifically those found in academic journals. It looks at how often items or articles are cited, and by looking at this information, conclusions can be drawn about the importance of a specific article to a specific field. In addition, it can also be used as a tool to determine if libraries are holding the journals cited most often in their collections.

The premise behind citation analysis is that, the more an author or journal is cited in other scholarly articles, the more impact it has had in the discipline. This is known in the field of citation analysis as the impact factor. It can be used to judge the importance of journals and researchers in any given field. This information can be useful for libraries, funding entities, and hiring committees.

For libraries, citation analysis can be used to determine if the library is meeting its patrons' needs. Looking at the journals cited most often, the library can then look at its own collection to determine if it carries the most important titles. It can also be used to determine if other journals the library carries should be discontinued. In other words, if a specific journal is rarely cited in other articles, the library may decide not to carry that journal title any longer, thus saving money.


Hiring committees, on the other hand, may look at how often a specific researcher is cited in other articles, thus determining the researcher's importance to the field. Researchers who are cited more often may have better chances of being hired. One of the negative aspects of citation analysis, however, is that it doesn't account for negative citations. This means that, if a researcher is cited in another article that is trying to disprove the point or is saying that the researcher is wrong, this type of citation would still be included in the citation analysis. For this reason, hiring committees usually look at other factors in addition to how often the researcher is cited.

There are several databases that can be used for citation analysis. These databases and tools count the citations and can be classified in different ways. The ever-increasing use of the Internet has made room for multiple citation tools to be created. The more tools a citation analysis utilizes, the more complete the analysis will likely be.


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