The Quality of Citations: Towards Quantifying Qualitative Impact in Social Science Research
28 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2016
Date Written: June 1, 2016
The quantity of citations (“times cited”) has evolved into an influential indicator of scientific impact both in itself and packaged into other metrics (e.g. h-index, impact factor). In this study we contrast the idea of “quantity” with the idea of the “quality” of citations, i.e. the “quality” of impact. We develop and present methods that can be used to move from a superficial assessment of citation quantity to a more nuanced view of the quality of citations. We illustrate these methods using six highly cited study in the fields of political science, economics and sociology. In the future this more nuanced view and the data we are generating should allow for testing various hypotheses linked to the reception of scientific works and the sociology of science more generally. Our study is complemented by opensource code (based on R) that shall be collected in a R package CitationsR that allows other researchers to pursue their own analyses of the quality of impact of one or several studies.
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