Letters to the Editor


D-Lib Magazine
October 2005

Volume 11 Number 10

ISSN 1082-9873

To the Editor

The letter below was received in response to the article, An Examination of Citation Counts in a New Scholarly Communication Environment, by Kathleen Bauer and Nisa Bakkalbasi in the September 2005 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

To the Editor:

We read with interest "An Examination of Citation Counts in a New Scholarly Communication Environment" by Bauer and Bakkalbasi (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/september05/bauer/09bauer.html). Our understanding of web-based access to research is enhanced as more studies examine this rapidly-evolving interaction of information and technology. Indeed, one need only look at the early work by Kling and McKim (1999), which they cite, to see how much electronic publishing has changed.

Bauer and Bakkalbasi's observation that more recent work is more highly cited on the web confirms our findings in a study of citations to articles published in 46 library and information science journals comparing a time span of only five years (1992 to 1997) (Vaughan & Shaw, 2003). We also found that web citations were more numerous than ISI (Web of Science) citation counts, but that in most cases the number of web and ISI citations correlated significantly.

Our study, conducted before the introduction of Google Scholar or Scopus, found that an average of at least 42% of the web citations represented intellectual impact. Because we compared several journals, we were also able to identify a correlation between Journal Impact Factor as measured by ISI and the average number of web citations to a journal.

In a subsequent study (Vaughan & Shaw, 2004) we examined web citations to 114 journals in four areas of science. Again, web and ISI citation counts correlated, but the web counts were higher, especially for journals published outside the UK or USA. This suggested that Web searches might be conducted for earlier or more fine-grained assessment of a paper's impact.

Our field will need considerably more studies on the impact of web-based alternatives to ISI's Web of Science. Proponents of open access to research literature often use citation counts to measure impact; Bauer and Bakkalbasi remind us that we should understand how these citation counts are made.

Debora Shaw
School of Library and Information Science
Indiana University
1320 E. 10th Street, Main Library 011
Bloomington, IN 47405-3907

Liwen Vaughan
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B7


Kling, R., & McKim, G. (1999). Scholarly communication and the continuum of electronic publishing. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50(10), 890-906.

Vaughan, L., & Shaw, D. (2003). Bibliographic and Web citations: What is the difference? Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(14), 1313-1322.

Vaughan, L., & Shaw, D. (2004). Can Web citations be a measure of impact? An investigation of journals in the life sciences. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science, 516-526. <https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/118>.

D-Lib Magazine welcomes letters related to digital library research and electronic publishing issues. Also welcome are letters with questions or comments about the magazine in general, or about articles appearing in the magazine. Please do not send letters that are primarily commercial, promotional, or advertising in nature.

Letters concerning articles selected for possible publication as Letters to the Editor will be forwarded to the article authors for response. If published, the Letter to the Editor will appear with the article authors' responses whenever possible. D-Lib Magazine reserves the right to edit or shorten letters. If you prefer, you may request that your letter not be published.

Please send your Letters to the Editor to dlib@cnri.reston.va.us.

Copyright© 2005 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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