Maps of citations

These days it is easy to trace down heaps of literature on a specific topic. But how can you manage those mountains of scholarly information? I just read a cool article on citation network analysis, a set of metrics and visualisation tools that helps you to do just that.

Imagine a Google Maps of scholarship, a set of tools sophisticated enough to help researchers locate hot research, spot hidden connections to other fields, and even identify new disciplines as they emerge in the sprawling terrain of scholarly communication.

The article discusses Bergstrom and West’s Eigenfactor metric. More than just the number of citations an article receives, the Eigenfactor metric weights the source of the publication. So an article published in Nature that was cited 20 times will be more prominent than an article published in ‘The Hampshire Journal of Late Medieval Pottery’ cited an equal number of times. Citation networks are just full of stories about how researchers think, build on ideas and elaborate on them.

And I think this is extremely cool! Some of my own work on citation networks of archaeological papers will follow soon.

For now, do have a look at the awesome motion graphs on the Eigenfactor website. You can explore the evolution of the number of articles and their influence through time. Check out Anthropology for example under which all the archaeology journals are grouped. You will see that journals like Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science and American Antiquity have a relatively lower impact (according to the eigenfactor metric) compared to Current Anthropology and Journal of Human Evolution for example.

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