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Co-Citation Analysis, Bibliographic Coupling, and Direct Citation: Which Citation Approach Represents the Research Front Most Accurately?

  • SciTech Strategies, Inc.
  • SciTech Strategies, United States

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In the past several years studies have started to appear comparing the accuracies of various science mapping approaches. These studies primarily compare the cluster solutions resulting from different similarity approaches, and give varying results. In this study we compare the accuracies of cluster solutions of a large corpus of 2,153,769 recent articles from the biomedical literature (2004–2008) using four similarity approaches: co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, direct citation, and a bibliographic coupling-based citation-text hybrid approach. Each of the four approaches can be considered a way to represent the research front in biomedicine, and each is able to successfully cluster over 92% of the corpus. Accuracies are compared using two metrics—within-cluster textual coherence as defined by the Jensen-Shannon divergence, and a concentration measure based on the grant-to-article linkages indexed in MEDLINE. Of the three pure citation-based approaches, bibliographic coupling slightly outperforms co-citation analysis using both accuracy measures; direct citation is the least accurate mapping approach by far. The hybrid approach improves upon the bibliographic coupling results in all respects. We consider the results of this study to be robust given the very large size of the corpus, and the specificity of the accuracy measures used. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
Co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, and direct citation: Which citation
approach represents the research front most accurately?
Kevin W. Boyacka & Richard Klavansb
a SciTech Strategies, Inc., Albuquerque, NM 87122 USA (
b SciTech Strategies, Inc., Berwyn, PA 19312 USA (
In the past several years studies have started to appear comparing the accuracies of various
science mapping approaches. These studies primarily compare the cluster solutions resulting
from different similarity approaches, and give varying results. In this study, we compare the
accuracies of cluster solutions of a large corpus of 2,153,769 recent articles from the biomedical
literature (2004-2008) using four similarity approaches: co-citation analysis, bibliographic
coupling, direct citation, and a bibliographic coupling-based citation-text hybrid approach. Each
of the four approaches can be considered as a way to represent the research front in biomedicine,
and each is able to successfully cluster over 92% of the corpus. Accuracies are compared using
two metrics – within-cluster textual coherence as defined by the Jensen-Shannon divergence, and
a new concentration factor based on the grant-to-article linkages indexed in MEDLINE. Of the
three pure citation-based approaches, bibliographic coupling slightly outperforms co-citation
analysis using both accuracy measures; direct citation is the least accurate mapping approach by
far. The hybrid approach improves upon the bibliographic coupling results in all respects. We
consider the results of this study to be robust given the very large size of the corpus, and the
specificity of the accuracy measures used.
Science mapping has reached the point where it is no longer a primarily academic venture but
instead is being driven by and used for practical purposes. Although such mapping is often
equated with visual representations of the structure of science, the visuals are only a reflection of
the layout and partitioning of bibliographic units (e.g., documents, words, authors, journals) that
are the primary output of the mathematics behind the mapping. The partitions themselves, along
with detailed analysis of the partitions, are typically of far more interest to decision-makers than
are visuals of the structure. The accuracy of these partitions becomes very important, especially
when these maps are used for real-world problems of research planning and evaluation.
Our work over the past several years has been aimed specifically at creating ever more detailed
(Klavans & Boyack, 2010), accurate (Boyack, Klavans, & Börner, 2005; Klavans & Boyack,
2006a, 2006b), and actionable science maps that can be used by decision-makers. We have been
very encouraged to see studies showing up in the recent literature aimed at increasing the
accuracy of maps. Studies have compared citation approaches (Jarneving, 2005; Shibata,
Kajikawa, Takeda, & Matsushima, 2009), citation with textual similarity approaches (Ahlgren &
Jarneving, 2008; Glenisson, Glänzel, Janssens, & de Moor, 2005; Glenisson, Glänzel, & Persson,
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
2005), and several have even started to examine hybrid text-citation approaches (Ahlgren &
Colliander, 2009a; Janssens, Quoc, Glänzel, & de Moor, 2006; Janssens, Zhang, De Moor, &
Glänzel, 2009; Liu et al., 2010).
We recently completed a study for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in which we
compared science maps generated from a single large corpus (2.15 million documents published
from 2004-2008) using 13 different similarity approaches, including three citation-based
approaches, nine text-based approaches, and one hybrid approach. The ultimate application of
this science mapping effort for NIH will be for portfolio planning and analysis; any time science
mapping has the potential to become co-mingled with funding and decision making, the map
must be as accurate as possible. Thus, our study was focused on determining how to generate the
most accurate large scale map of the medical science literature for portfolio analysis applications.
In any study of accuracy, the question of how to measure and compare the accuracies of different
solutions must be answered. When it comes to the accuracy of science maps this is not a trivial
issue given that ground truth rarely exists. In this article we use two measures of accuracy to
compare the cluster solutions from the different similarity approaches. The first is a textual
coherence measure, and the second is a new measure that we introduce here. This new measure
uses grant-to-article linkages from the acknowledgements of grants indexed in MEDLINE.
Cluster solutions that provide a higher concentration of articles from single grants are considered
more accurate than those with a lower concentrating factor. This measure is particularly well
aligned with portfolio analysis since the portfolios that will be analyzed are most often tied to
funded grants.
The entire NIH study was far too broad and varied to be fully reported on in a single article.
Thus, this article is restricted to comparing science maps from three citation-based approaches –
co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, and direct citation – and the hybrid approach. We
include the hybrid approach here because it was based on bibliographic coupling. We
acknowledge that text-based mapping methodologies are very well developed, and will report the
results of the text-based approaches from our large study in other articles.
The three main citation-based approaches to science mapping have somewhat different histories.
While bibliographic coupling (Kessler, 1963) and co-citation analysis (Marshakova, 1973;
Small, 1973) both trace their roots back several decades, co-citation analysis was adopted as the
de facto standard in the 1970s, and has enjoyed that position of preference ever since. There has
been a recent resurgence in the use of bibliographic coupling that is challenging the historical
preference for co-citation analysis (Boyack, 2009b; Jarneving, 2005, 2007a, 2007b; Sandström,
2009). Direct citation (sometimes also called intercitation), although employed from time to time
(cf., Shibata, Kajikawa, Takeda, & Matsushima, 2008), has not been as widely used because of
the need to use very long time windows to obtain a sufficient linking signal for clustering.
Although these three approaches are typically not combined, Small (1997) did propose a way to
effectively combine them, although no-one seems to have pursued use of this combined linkage
technique at large scale.
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
Citation-based mapping approaches
Before reviewing the history of accuracy studies associated with science mapping, we feel the
need to clarify the differences between citation-based mapping approaches, and how they each
cover the document space and represent the research front. Figure 1 shows a longitudinal data set
containing nine articles (gray box) – articles A-E are recently published and not yet cited, while
articles M-P are older, and have been cited by the more recent documents in the set. In addition,
we show articles W-Z, which are not in the longitudinal set, but which have been cited by
documents within the set. In this example we assume that the time window of the longitudinal
data set is short (e.g., 5 years), and thus equate the research front with this short window of
current articles. Articles A-E might be published in the last 2 years, articles M-P would be
published 3-5 years ago, and articles W-Z would be published more than 5 years ago.
Direct citation
Within set only Including external references
Figure 1. Example of how different citation-based mapping approaches partition the same set of
documents. The gray box represents the documents within a dataset. Documents W, X, Y and Z are
documents outside the set, but are referenced by documents within the set. Solid arrows represent
citations within the set. Dashed arrows represent citations to documents outside the set. Ovals in
each panel show how the documents might be clustered by each approach.
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We first consider clusters of articles formed within the longitudinal data set or research front if
only references within the set are considered. Direct citation, where articles are linked if one
references another, only considers links from within the set. In the example of Figure 1, cluster
(A,M,N) will form because A cites both M and N; cluster (C,D,O) will form because C and D
both cite O, and cluster (E,P) will form from the link between E and P. Article B will not be
clustered because it doesn’t cite any other article within the set. Bibliographic coupling links
documents that reference the same set of cited documents. In the case of Figure 1 only one
cluster will form if only internal links are considered; cluster (C,D) forms since C and D both
cite O. The remaining documents are not placed in clusters since none of them cite a reference
paper that is cited by any other document within the set.
The word co-citation is used in different science mapping studies to denote two different
processes. Here we differentiate between co-citation clustering, which is simply the formation of
clusters of co-cited documents, and co-citation analysis, which takes the result of co-citation
clustering, and then assigns current papers (or papers from the research front) to the co-citation
clusters. Of the two, co-citation analysis is the more standard approach. In the case of Figure 1, if
only within-set links are used, co-citation clustering will form a single cluster (M,N) since both
M and N were cited by A. If the process is expanded to co-citation analysis, the cluster will
expand to include paper A, since A cites M and N.
This example shows some of the broader effects associated with the different citation-based
approaches. In a longitudinal data set where links are restricted to those within the set,
bibliographic coupling is able to cluster very recent papers but clusters fewer of the very old
papers, while co-citation clustering does the opposite – it clusters the older papers, but cannot
cluster the most recent papers that have not yet been cited. Direct citation clusters documents
more evenly across the time window, and tends to cluster a larger number of documents than
either bibliographic coupling or co-citation processes.
Figure 1 also shows the clusters that will result using the different citation-based approaches if
external references are used in addition to the within-set links. For bibliographic coupling, the
inclusion of external references greatly increases the number of papers in the research front that
can be clustered. In the case shown here two clusters will form: cluster (A,B,C,M,N) because
these documents cite W and X, and cluster (D,E,O,P) from citing of Y and Z. Article C cites
references from both clusters, but would likely end up in the (A,B…) cluster because it cites two
core references that form that cluster, while only citing one reference that forms the other cluster.
Co-citation clustering approaches also benefit greatly from the use of external references,
because the external references can be members of co-citation clusters. In the Figure 1 example,
co-citation clustering using external references would form two clusters: (M,N,W,X) and
(O,P,Y,Z). One of the features of co-citation analysis is the possibility of fractionally assigning
papers in the research front to multiple clusters. In the example shown, assignment of the
research front papers to the two co-citation clusters would add papers A and B to the first cluster,
and papers D and E to the second cluster. Paper C could be split between the two clusters in
fractions of 2/3 and 1/3, respectively, since it has 2 links to the first co-citation cluster and one
link to the second cluster. Note that both the bibliographic coupling and co-citation analysis
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
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approaches based on both internal and external references cluster more documents than does the
direct citation approach.
The example of Figure 1 is obviously greatly simplified from actual citation networks.
Nevertheless, it does illustrate the differences between approaches, and also shows that, even in
this highly simplified case, there are enormous differences between the resulting cluster
solutions, thus justifying the need for a study to compare the accuracies of different cluster
solutions. It also shows that the inclusion of external references is highly beneficial from a
coverage standpoint. If the application for a particular literature map requires full coverage (or
nearly full coverage) of that literature, within-set linkages are not sufficient.
For completeness, we also note here that the direct citation approach does have a variant (not
shown in Figure 1) that we have never seen published. In the same way that co-citation analysis
fractionally assigns papers from the research front to co-citation clusters of reference papers, one
can consider the direct citation clusters as clusters of reference papers, and then fractionally re-
assign the papers to clusters based on the reference structure. To do this, one must make the
assumption that each paper cites itself as well as the other papers in the reference list. This
method does not increase the number of papers that are assignable, but does give the option of
splitting the papers between multiple clusters if that feature is desired.
Accuracy studies
Although quantitative comparison of the accuracies of maps generated from different similarity
approaches is a relatively recent topic, researchers have, from the beginning, sought to show that
their maps are accurate in the sense that they correspond with reality. One early example of this
is a map that shows not only disciplinary areas, but also labels the linkages between those
disciplinary areas with the topics that are the main sources of those linkages (Small & Garfield,
1985). Showing detail that corresponds to our perception of reality is one way of establishing the
face validity of a map of science.
Braam, Moed & van Raan (1991) took the next logical step and, in addition to giving a most
open and honest assessment of co-citation analysis from the points of view of both protagonists
and detractors, calculated the within-cluster and between-cluster coherence of content words
(indexing terms and classification codes) associated with co-citation clusters. They concluded
that co-citation analysis does generate clusters that are topically coherent, and that correspond
loosely with research specialties. This association is not prescriptive, or one-to-one, but rather
several clusters could be associated with a single specialty. Nevertheless, the study did establish
quantitatively that co-citation analysis produces research fronts (recent papers assigned to co-
citation clusters) that are topically coherent and relatively distinct from each other.
Recent studies that compare the cluster solutions from different similarity approaches have been
done at two different levels – journals and documents. Two different research teams have
compared the accuracies of similarity approaches in journal mapping. The current authors used a
set of 7,121 journals from the 2002 combined SCIE/SSCI indexes and compared various
intercitation and co-citation based similarity measures (Boyack et al., 2005; Klavans & Boyack,
2006a). Their maps were compared using mutual information and pairwise binary overlap
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metrics with the ISI subject categories as the standard of comparison. Their primary finding
regarding similarity measures was that normalized measures (e.g., cosine, Jaccard, Pearson
correlation) generate far more accurate maps than those based on raw citation counts. More
recently, researchers at KU Leuven have compared a variety of citation-based, text-based, and
hybrid similarity approaches using a set of 8,305 journals from the 2002-2006 Web of Science
(Janssens et al., 2009; Liu et al., 2010). The most recent of these studies (Liu et al., 2010)
compared 5 citation-based approaches (including cross-citation1, co-citation, and bibliographic
coupling), 5 text-based approaches (including TFIDF and LSI-TFIDF), and 9 different weighting
schemes to combine the matrices of the 10 text- and citation-based models. The 19 models were
each partitioned into 22 clusters and then compared using an adjusted Rand index and the
normalized mutual information (NMI) metric with the 22 high-level ESI (Essential Science
Indicators) categories as the basis of comparison. The WEAC-AL (weighted evidence
accumulation) hybrid weighting scheme performed best overall, with NMI values 6.6% and
3.8% higher than the best text- and citation-based approaches, respectively. Interestingly, of the
pure text- and citation-based approaches, the binary approach performed best in each case. This
is a somewhat counterintuitive result in that one might expect continuous measures that give
fine-grained differentiation in similarities to generate a more accurate cluster solution than a
simple (0,1) binary measure, and deserves more investigation.
Comparisons at the document level started to appear at about the same time as the earliest journal
level study mentioned above. The KU Leuven group, in addition to their work with journals, also
investigated similarity approaches at the document level (Janssens et al., 2006). They partitioned
5,188 bioinformatics articles into 2 and 7 cluster solutions using 13 different similarity
approaches, including TFIDF, LSI, bibliographic coupling and two variants, and many different
hybrid approaches that combined the text and citation vectors in various ways. Cluster qualities
of the 13 solution sets were compared using Silhouette values calculated from the MeSH term
distributions for each cluster. Using this metric, the hybrid approaches outperformed both text-
only and citation-only approaches. The KU Leuven group also compared the accuracies of text-
based approaches using full text articles as opposed to using just the words from titles and
abstracts for clustering (Glenisson, Glänzel, Janssens et al., 2005; Glenisson, Glänzel, & Persson,
2005), and found that full text outperformed titles and abstracts on sets of 19 and 85 documents
from the journal Scientometrics.
Cao & Gao (2005) examined a set of 4,330 articles in the machine learning area, and found that
adding citation information to their textual feature vectors resulted in a 3-4% gain in
classification accuracy when compared to the known classifications for the documents. They also
found that feature vectors that included 2-word phrases in addition to single words gave slightly
higher accuracies than feature vectors containing only single words.
Jarneving (2005) compared the representations of the research front as calculated using
bibliographic coupling and co-citation analysis. Using a dataset comprised of over 73,000
articles, a 10% sample was taken and then further reduced using coupling strengths and cluster
size thresholds, to ultimately compare a bibliographic coupling set of 1,691 articles in 88 clusters
with a co-citation set of 2,094 articles in 96 clusters. The overlap between the two sets was only
1 Cross-citation as defined by Liu et al. (2010) is identical to intercitation as defined by Boyack et al. (2005). Both
studies generated counts at the paper level, aggregated to journals, and ignored citation direction between journals.
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612 articles. Although there was a clear conclusion that the two methods produced very different
representations of the research front (using analysis of words patterns associated with the two
cluster solutions), no conclusion could be arrived at as to which method produced the most
accurate representation of the research front.
Klavans & Boyack (2006b) generated 4 bibliographic coupling and 4 co-citation cluster maps of
a much larger document space, the 2002 SCIE/SSCI set of documents. The bibliographic
coupling maps contained 731,000 articles, while the co-citation cluster maps contained 719,000
cited references. Although maps from the two approaches were not compared, this study showed
that normalized measures (e.g. cosines) produced more accurate maps than raw count-based
measures, and also that cluster solutions tending toward smaller clusters were more accurate than
cluster solutions tending toward larger clusters.
Calado et al. (2006) clustered two separate pre-classified collections of web documents (over
40,000 documents each) using five different similarity approaches, including bibliographic
coupling, co-citation clustering, Amsler (a linear combination of bibliographic coupling and co-
citation clustering), and text-based TFIDF. Using the F1 (combined precision-recall) metric, they
found that the text-based approach was far better than any of the citation-based approaches if
only internal (or within-set) links were used, while the co-citation and Amsler approaches did far
better than the text-based approach if both internal and external links were used. The same
research team ran a similar study using the ACM8 document collection, a set of 6,680 documents
from 8 first-level categories in the ACM digital library (Couto et al., 2006). However, the results
were different in this case. Using the external links that were available (within the ACM full set)
along with internal links, the Amsler similarity approach had the best performance, followed
closely by bibliographic coupling. These citation-based approaches did better than the TFIDF
cosine approach by 3-10% depending on clustering method. Co-citation performed worst in this
study; this poorer performance was likely due to the lack of availability of external citations to
these ACM documents from articles outside the ACM collection, and points out the advantage of
working with comprehensive data when doing accuracy studies.
Shibata et al. (2009) compared cluster solutions from direct citation, bibliographic coupling, and
co-citation clustering on three data sets ranging in size from 3,510 to 23,459 articles, using
within-set links only. Using measurements based on cluster size, citation speed, and linkage
density, they found that direct citation was quickest and best at detecting emerging research
fronts while co-citation was worst. These results can be directly correlated with the effects of
using within-set links mentioned in the discussion around Figure 1. Given that co-citation
clustering using only within-set links will not cluster any recent paper that has not yet been cited
within the set, this technique biases against recent papers, and biases against detection of the
research front. Co-citation analysis would certainly have been a better choice for comparison in
this study than was co-citation clustering.
Finally, Ahlgren and co-workers tested both 1st and 2nd order similarity approaches on a set of 43
documents from the Information Retrieval journal (Ahlgren & Colliander, 2009a; Ahlgren &
Jarneving, 2008). Comparing the results against a by-hand classification of these documents into
15 clusters with a Rand index, they found that bibliographic coupling did very poorly, while text
and hybrid approaches did much better. Among 1st order similarity approaches a hybrid using a
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
linear combination of TFIDF-SVD and bibliographic coupling approaches was best, while
among 2nd order approaches the original TFIDF was best. Second order approaches performed
better than their associated first order approaches in all cases, and as such are very promising.
Ahlgren and Colliander (2009b) followed this up with a study of another data set containing 58
documents related to science metrics and found that bibliographic coupling outperformed TFIDF
using a variety of clustering techniques. We question whether the results from these studies (and
those of Glenisson et al. mentioned earlier) with such small samples and conflicting outcomes
can be generalized or scaled in any meaningful way.
From the foregoing discussion of similarity metric comparisons, although the data are somewhat
sparse, there seems to be a growing body of results suggesting that properly constructed hybrid
text-citation approaches can lead to more accurate maps of science than can be generated from
text-only or citation-only approaches. In this article, we do not address text-only similarity
approaches, but we will address the difference between citation-only similarity approaches and a
simply hybrid approach that incorporates textual information into a citation-based approach.
Regarding accuracy, there is one additional observation we would like to make. Despite the
relatively small number of quantitative accuracy studies that have been published, most current
science mapping studies do attempt to consider accuracy in a qualitative fashion. Most mapping
studies, whether based on documents, authors, or journals, tell stories about or explain some of
the associations observed in their maps as a means of self-validation. By saying this we do not
mean to suggest that this self-validation lacks meaning. In fact the opposite is true – the
observations and stories associated with the partitioning, structure, and dynamics of these maps,
and our association of these observations with reality, are the things that give our maps face
validity, make them compelling, and make us want to dig a little further. The stories and the
potentially actionable results are what drive us to seek a more accurate map.
Data and Methods
Study corpus
The purpose of the full study that was performed for NIH was to find the most accurate science
mapping solution on a very large corpus of biomedical literature – in essence, to determine how
to most accurately map all of the medical sciences literature. As mentioned previously, even
though we only report on citation-based and hybrid approaches here, the full study compared
text-based, citation-based, and hybrid text-citation approaches. A study corpus was needed that
would be large enough to provide definitive results, and that would not be biased toward either
text- or citation-based approaches. We thus generated a corpus for which we had both sufficient
text and citation information for all articles.
Given that NIH hosts the MEDLINE database, its contents are an implicit definition of what the
NIH considers to be medical science. We thus felt it best to base our study corpus on MEDLINE,
and to add citation data as needed. Scopus records were matched to MEDLINE records to
generate a set of records with both textual and citation information. This set of records was then
limited to those articles published from 2004-2008 that contained abstracts, at least 5 MeSH
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terms, and at least 5 references in their bibliographies, resulting in a study corpus of 2,153,769
unique scientific articles. The process used to generate this corpus was as follows:
1) Records from MEDLINE were matched to Scopus records to generate a one-to-one
matching between records, to identify those records (articles, etc.) for which MeSH
terms, titles, abstracts, and references are available. Matching was carried out on a
segment of both databases containing publications from 2003 to 2008 to ensure that at
least 2 million records would be matched, using the following process:
a. Over the past several years, we have maintained a matched list of MEDLINE and
Scopus journals. This list was used to add the Scopus journal ID number to 99.8%
of the MEDLINE records (corresponding to 7611 different MEDLINE journal
abbreviations) from 2003 to 2008.
b. A sequence of steps using different criteria was then used to match MEDLINE
and Scopus article data. Matching was done without replacement; if a particular
MEDLINE record was matched in one step, it was removed from the list and not
available for matching in a subsequent step. The matching criteria, in order, were:
i. Journal ID AND starting page AND (volume OR pubyear) AND
ii. Journal ID AND volume AND soundex(title)
iii. Journal ID AND pubyear AND soundex(title)
iv. Journal ID AND soundex(title)
v. Given that each of the above matching steps (1-4) generated some
duplicate matches to PMIDs (PubMed ID), the matched set was restricted
to unique PMID-ScopusID matches (meaning each PMID and ScopusID
could only appear once in the full list).
vi. For any duplicate matches, matches where the first five initials of the first
author’s last name did not match were removed.
vii. All remaining unmatched PMID were left as unmatched. Results of these
matching steps are given in Table 1.
As shown in Table 1, the overall matching rate (unique PMID to ScopusID) for the entire
set of MEDLINE documents from 2003 to 2008 was 95.3%. The matching rate for 2008
(92%) is lower than for previous years (over 96%) because the full 2008 data were not
yet available in the Scopus raw data that we were using.
Table 1. Efficiency of matching Scopus to MEDLINE records.
Step Counts Fraction Total matched
0 – initial MEDLINE records 3,647,481
1 – matching criteria i 2,847,197 78.06% 2,847,197
2 – matching criteria ii 557,991 15.30% 3,405,188
3 – matching criteria iii 91,985 2.52% 3,497,173
4 – matching criteria iv 2,676 0.07% 3,499,849
5-7 – remove duplicate/false matches (v-vii) 3,475,573 95.29% 3,475,573
2 “Soundex” is a function in MySQL that strips all non-alphanumeric characters from text, and converts the
remaining text to a string based on phonetics. Two strings that sound the same, but that have different spellings, can
thus have the same soundex value. Use of the soundex function allows us to match some records where there are
simple misspellings or punctuation differences in the article titles between the two databases.
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2) Additional data were added to the matched data: numbers of references from Scopus,
numbers of MeSH terms from MEDLINE, and the existence of a MEDLINE abstract.
These data were then used to limit the set of records to those with sufficient text and
citation information to form an appropriate corpus for this study. It was clear from the
numbers that all 6 years (2003 to 2008) of records were not needed to give a set of around
two million documents. We thus restricted the set to five years (2004 to 2008). Numbers
of documents by year, using different limitations, are given in Table 2.
Table 2. Numbers of documents by year using different limitations.
Year MEDLINE In Scopus A R A or R A and R Final
2004 575,938 553,743 454,023 436,421 489,545 400,899 389,353
2005 603,166 579,359 480,477 469,777 517,773 432,481 420,059
2006 626,895 605,734 504,747 498,328 547,663 455,412 442,743
2007 644,457 620,386 523,805 520,196 566,781 477,220 464,479
2008 650,069 597,839 506,852 490,034 547,110 449,776 437,135
Total 3,100,525 2,957,061 2,469,504 2,414,756 2,668,872 2,215,788 2,153,769
A – has an abstract; R – has > 5 references
It is interesting to examine the numbers from Table 2. Only 81.7% of the MEDLINE records in
Scopus have 5 or more references, only 83.5% of the records have abstracts, and only 74.9% of
records have both. This suggests that if one wants a map with full coverage, a hybrid approach
would be necessary – otherwise, a citation-based map would be missing around 18% of
documents, and a text-based map would be missing 16%.
For the study corpus, it was decided to keep those documents with an abstract, at least five
references, and at least 5 MeSH terms. In addition, there were several hundred articles with very
large numbers of references. In our experience, articles with large numbers of references can lead
to over-aggregation of citation clusters. Thus, we arbitrarily set a threshold of 400 references;
article with more references than this were excluded from the corpus. The final numbers of
articles by year that met these criteria are listed in the final column of Table 2.
The accuracy of our matching process was checked by accessing the PMIDs as indexed in the
Scopus raw data. Of our 2,153,769 ScopusID to PMID matches, we found that the Scopus raw
data did not contain a PMID for 129,300 (6.0%) of the ScopusIDs. Spot-checking of the
corresponding records from each database showed that our matches were indeed valid matches.
Within the 2,024,469 records for which Scopus had a PMID, our matched PMIDs were only
different in 27 cases. The matching process used above thus has an accuracy rate of > 99.99%,
and use of our matching process provided a more complete corpus for this project than if Scopus
PMIDs alone had been used to link the reference data from Scopus to the MEDLINE documents.
Similarity approaches
Three different citation-based maps were generated using the reference information associated
with our corpus of 2,153,769 documents. Each method requires different processing from a
single starting point – the full list of citing:cited document ID pairs from the corpus. This initial
list consists of 80,754,581 citing:cited pairs that reference 15,503,380 unique reference papers.
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Co-citation analysis (CCA) method: The general process for co-citation analysis is to 1) identify
a set of reference papers, 2) calculate the similarity between pairs of reference papers using co-
citation counts, 3) calculate co-citation clusters of reference papers using the similarity values,
and 4) fractionally assign the current (or research front) papers to the co-citation clusters based
on location of their references. The first two steps, identification of the reference set and
calculation of the similarity values, are detailed here. The clustering step will be detailed later.
Reference papers were filtered using the following formula which is based on the standard co-
citation practice at SciTech Strategies:
The articles from the corpus were grouped by publication year and separate citing:cited
pair files were generated for each of the five publication years.
For each yearly set, the citations to each unique reference paper were counted.
For each yearly set, reference papers that met the following criteria were retained in the
(age = 0 and ncited > 3) OR (age < 3 and ncited > (age+1)) OR ncited > 5
where age = citing publication year – cited publication year.
The retained references from the five yearly sets were combined to form the full set of
references, resulting in a set of 2,473,611 unique references. The original citing:cited pair
list was then filtered to include only those pairs where the cited document was in the set
of 2,473,611 references, resulting in a pairs file containing 50,221,140 citing:cited pairs.
All references were cited at least 4 times over the five year period (the criteria in the third
bullet was by year), and the most highly cited reference was cited by 25,579 (1.1876%)
of the citing documents.
Co-citation similarities were calculated as:
Co-citation frequencies, Ci,j, between pairs of reference documents i and j were calculated
from the citing:cited pairs list.
Each co-citation frequency was modified using
Fi,j = 1/log(p(Ci,j+1)) where p(Ci,j+1) = Ci,j (Ci,j+1)/2. (1)
K50 (modified cosine) values were calculated from each Fi,j value as:
ijji SS
KK ,,,,
,, ,max5050
ji SSS
, , ij , .
E is an expected value of F, and varies with Sj ; K50 differs from most other measures in
that it is a relative measure that subtracts out the expected value. Thus K50 will only be
positive for those reference paper interactions that are larger than expected given the
matrix row and column sums. Note also that although Ei,j
Ej,i , the differences in these
values are typically too small to be of consequence for paper-level similarities, even
though they can be quite large for journal-level similarities.
jii =
The full K50 matrix is too large for our clustering routines, thus we filter the similarities to
generate a reduced size similarity file. Filtering was done by 1) removing all pairs with negative
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K50 values, 2) sorting the remaining list by reference and descending K50 value, 3) removing all
references which had more than 15 K50 values tied in the first position (because they were
obviously non-differentiating), and 4) using the total degree distribution for each reference, and
scaling the log(degree) values to a 5-15 scale. The degree for each reference thus determines how
many pairs that reference brings into the final similarity file, varying between 5 and 15. We call
this a top-n similarity file. Although our clustering routines ignore (A:B – B:A) duplicates, it is
useful to de-duplicate the similarity file for efficiency. After de-duplication, the total number of
cited document pairs in the cited document similarity file was 15,537,317.
Bibliographic coupling (BC) method: The general process for bibliographic coupling is to 1)
identify a set of recent papers, 2) calculate the similarity between pairs of papers using
bibliographic coupling counts, and 3) assign citing papers to clusters using the similarity values.
The first two of these steps are detailed here:
While we did need to filter the reference papers for the co-citation calculation, no filtering of
citing documents was needed because the full set of 2.15 million documents is well within the
range of what our clustering routines can manage. The full citing:cited pair list was used to
generate a similarity using the following process:
Reference papers cited more than 500 times within the set were removed from the
citing:cited pair list to avoid the over-aggregation associated with coupling based on
highly cited references.
Bibliographic coupling frequencies, Bi,j, between pairs of citing documents were
calculated from the filtered citing:cited pair list. The total number of citing document
pairs (full matrix) with a non-zero coupling count was 170,835,050.
Bibliographic coupling K50 values were calculated from frequencies Bi,j, using the same
method and equations listed above for co-citation analysis, with values B replacing values
C. The full list of similarities was filtered to a top-n similarity file as detailed above.
After de-duplication, the total number of citing document pairs in the bibliographic
coupling similarity file was 14,159,303.
Direct citation (DC) method: The general process for direct citation is to 1) identify the
similarity pairs within the data set, 2) calculate similarities between pairs of papers, and 3) assign
papers to clusters using the similarity values. The first two of these steps are detailed here.
For direct citation, since all references pairs are within the set, no pre-filtering is necessary.
However, documents that either do not cite or are not cited by any other document within the set
will not be a part of the calculation. The within-set citing:cited pairs for this calculation were
determined by finding all pairs where both the citing and cited document were within the set.
This reduced the citing:cited pair list to 23,218,091 pairs. This list was used to generate a
similarity using the following process:
Each citing:cited pair was assigned a weight wt = 1/n where n is the total number of
papers cited by the citing paper in the pair. Thus, each citing paper contributes a total
weight of 1.0 to the initial direct citation counts. We did not see the need to use a more
complex weighting system that would account for times cited as well as number of
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Since this citing:cited:wt list is directional, and thus comprises only the upper half of a
full citation matrix, this list was flipped (cited:citing:wt) and concatenated to the upper
half, thus forming a full, symmetric matrix of fractional direct citation counts, Di,j.
The next two steps were the same as the final two steps listed for the co-citation method
above: calculating K50 values using frequencies D in place of modified frequencies F,
and filtering the full list of similarities to a top-n similarity file. After de-duplication, the
total number of citing document pairs in the direct citation similarity file was 7,581,738.
Hybrid similarity (HYB) method: A sample hybrid similarity approach using both references and
words was calculated to provide a proof of concept test as to whether a text-citation hybrid
similarity approach might be comparable, or perhaps even better, in terms of performance, than
the best text-based and best citation-based similarity approaches. Our hybrid test was done after
all of the work using all other similarity approaches was completed, and thus was designed to be
simple, and to take advantage of the lessons learned from working with the results from the
citation-based similarity approaches.
The hybrid similarity method used here was identical to the bibliographic coupling method
detailed above with the difference being that the coupling was done on both references and
words from the title/abstract matrix. Citing paper:word pairs were added to the citing:cited paper
list, and words were treated as if they were references. Only words occurring in between 4 and
500 documents within the corpus were added. These thresholds were chosen to match the
thresholds used on reference papers in the bibliographic coupling calculation. The process
detailed above for bibliographic coupling was then used on this hybrid text-citation matrix.
Similarity files from each of the similarity approaches above were run through a standardized
and very robust clustering process to generate sets of document clusters. The same clustering
method was used for all similarity approaches; thus the clustering method should not contribute
to any variability in the final results. The clustering process was comprised of four main steps:
1) The DrL3 (formerly VxOrd) graph layout routine (Martin, Brown, Klavans, & Boyack,
2008) was run using a similarity file as input, and using a cutting parameter of 0.975
(maximum cutting). DrL uses a random walk routine and prunes edges based on degree
and edge distance; long edges between nodes of high degree are preferentially cut. A
typical DrL run using an input file of 2M articles and 15M edges will cut approximately
60% of the input edges, where an edge represents a single document-document similarity
pair from the original similarity file. At the end of the layout calculation, each article has
an x,y position, and roughly 40% of the original edges remain.
2) Papers were assigned to clusters using an average-linkage clustering algorithm (Klavans
& Boyack, 2006b). The average-linkage clustering algorithm uses the article positions
(x,y) and remaining edges to assign papers to clusters. Once the clusters are generated,
the full list of pairs of papers that co-occur in a cluster are generated for each solution.
For example, if papers A, B, C, and D are in a cluster together, the set of pairs will be
AB, AC, AD, BC, BC, and CD.
3 Sandia National Laboratories has recently renamed DrL to OpenOrd, which is freely available at
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3) Steps (1-2) were run 10 separate times using 10 different random starting seeds for DrL,
and thus giving rise to 10 unique cluster solutions for the same similarity file. Different
starting seeds (i.e., different starting points for the random walk) will give rise to
different graph layouts and different (but typically highly overlapping) sets of remaining
edges. We use these differences to our advantage in this clustering process.
4) Those paper pairs that appear in 6 or more out of the 10 DrL solutions are considered to
be the robust pairs, and are listed in a separate file.4 This list of pairs is then used as the
input edges to the same average-linkage clustering algorithm used in the previous step.
Using this input, the algorithm essentially finds and outputs all distinct graph
components. Each separate component is a cluster, and these clusters are referred to as
level 0 clusters.
5) Logic dictates that a cluster should have a minimum size; otherwise there is not enough
content to differentiate it from other clusters. In our experience, a cluster should contain a
minimum of approximately five papers per year (or 25 papers over the five year length of
the corpus) to be considered topical.5 Thus we take all clusters with fewer than 25 papers,
and aggregate them. This is done by calculating K50 similarities between all pairs of
level 0 clusters, and then aggregating each small cluster (< 25 papers) with the cluster to
which it has the largest K50 similarity until no clusters with < 25 papers remain. K50
values are calculated from aggregated modified frequency values (the 1/log(p(C+1))
values) where available, and from the aggregated top-n similarity values in all other
cases. The resulting aggregated clusters are known as level 1 clusters.
Previous experience has shown that a cluster solution based on the combination of 10 DrL runs is
much more robust than that from a single DrL run. For example, using a co-citation model of
roughly 2.1M documents and 16M edges, the adjusted Rand index6 between pairs of single DrL
solutions was 0.32, while the adjusted Rand index between pairs of 10xDrL solutions was over
0.80. Requiring that papers be paired in the same cluster in 6 out of 10 separate DrL solutions
thus limits the final solution to only those pairs and sets of pairs (and thus the resulting clusters)
that are relatively robust. However, this robustness can also have a deleterious effect on the final
coverage of a solution – any papers that are not paired with another particular paper in at least 6
out of the 10 DrL runs will drop out of the solution. To some degree, this is in itself a measure of
the robustness (or conversely, ambiguity) in the similarity approach. Solutions in which many
papers are dropped do so because of ambiguity in the overall similarity space of the document
set. Thus, similarity approaches that generate solutions dropping many nodes can be thought of
as more ambiguous than similarity approaches that drop few nodes.
4 The 6/10 criteria was arrived at through testing. A criteria of 7/10 solutions leads to insufficient coverage, while a
criteria of 5/10 solutions leads to cluster chaining and the formation of a giant component. Both of these conditions
are undesirable. The 6/10 criteria thus represents a solution with sufficient coverage and a reasonable cluster size
5 This is based on an old, undocumented assumption among many bibliometricians that there must be a critical mass
of around 5 papers per year in a cluster for the cluster to represent a specific and measurable topic in science. We
have chosen to aggregate small clusters to this level, but others may choose to handle small clusters in a different
manner. There is no consensus in the community as to how the issue of small clusters should be dealt with.
6 The Rand index is an overlap measure based on the partitioning of paired elements in two data sets, see The adjusted Rand index adjusts the Rand index for chance, and is a more
stringent test than the Rand index.
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Assignment of reference front articles to co-citation clusters
For the bibliographic coupling, direct citation, and hybrid approaches, the results of the
clustering step are final because it is the papers from the corpus themselves that are being
clustered. However, one step remains for the co-citation analysis approach – the papers from the
corpus must be assigned to the co-citation clusters using their reference lists. This step is done at
the level 0 cluster level (between clustering steps 3 and 4 above), and before aggregation to level
1 clusters, as follows:
For each citing paper the number of references to papers in each of the level 0 clusters is
calculated from the citing:cited pairs list.
For each citing paper, the maximum number of references to level 0 clusters was
calculated, and the paper was labeled as unambiguous if that maximum number was
greater than 1. Citing papers with a maximum number of 1 were labeled as ambiguous.
A t-value is calculated for each citing paper, level 0 cluster pair where t is the number of
references to papers to the level 0 cluster divided by the square root of the number of
papers in the level 0 cluster. Thus, the t-value is related to the fraction of the cluster that
is cited by the citing paper. For unambiguous papers, t is only calculated for clusters
where the number of references to the cluster is greater than 1. This avoids long tails for
unambiguous papers.
For each citing paper, t-values are normalized to sum to 1.0. These normalized t-values
are used as the current paper to level 0 cluster weights.
For each citing paper, if it is also a reference paper in a level 0 cluster, the fractions are
adjusted; each fraction is set to one half of its previous value, thus giving each a summed
fractional value of 0.5. The remaining 0.5 fraction is assigned to the level 0 cluster to
which the paper belongs as a reference paper. The citing paper, level 0 fractions are then
re-summed to give the final fractional assignments.
Once the citing paper assignments have been made, then clustering step (4) above is applied to
merge clusters that contain fewer than 25 papers (using summed fractional counts) into level 1
Clustering results
Metrics from the 10xDrL cluster solutions from each of the similarity approaches are given in
Table 3. Cluster size distributions for the cluster solutions are shown in Figure 2.
Table 3. Clustering characteristics of the different cluster solutions.
Method # Articles
covered % Coverage # Level0
Clusters # Level1
Clusters Level1 Max
CCA 2,118,644 98.37% 188,561 32,184 3245
BC 2,081,022 96.62% 207,764 32,782 778
DC 1,996,050 92.68% 456,112 50,719 376
HYB 2,085,577 96.83% 198,122 31,121 596
The clustering results lead to several observations. First, the direct citation method gives by far
the largest number of clusters, and has the smallest cluster sizes. In fact, there were nearly 10,000
level 0 clusters with fewer than 25 members (including 7,387 with only two members) that could
not be aggregated into level 1 clusters because there was simply no direct citation relationship
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with any member of any other cluster. Thus, these level 0 clusters were carried forward to be
level 1 clusters. In addition, only 92.7% of the corpus was placed into clusters by the direct
citation method. These results related to direct citation are not surprising – they correlate very
well with the observations associated with the example in Figure 1.
Second, co-citation gives by far the largest cluster sizes for its largest clusters. However, once
the few clusters in the co-citation solution of size > 600 articles are accounted for, the cluster size
distributions for co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, and the hybrid approach are very
similar. All three of these approaches have coverages of greater than 96.6%, with co-citation
leading at 98.4%. All three of these approaches provide very high coverage of the corpus using
the clustering parameters selected. The similar cluster size distributions and coverages also
suggest that these factors will not negatively impact the accuracy comparisons to be shown later.
1 10 100 1000 10000
Number of clusters
Level 1 cluster size (articles)
Figure 2. Level 1 cluster size distributions.
Accuracy Metrics
Given that the main purpose of this study was to determine which similarity approach would
create the most accurate map of the medical sciences, we needed a way to measure the relative
accuracies of each cluster solution. We settled on two measures – the first measures the within-
cluster textual coherence, and the second is a new measure designed to show which similarity
approach best concentrates grant-to-article linkages. We note that the notion of a research front
includes both topical and social components, and further note that both of these measures focus
on the topical content rather than the social aspects of the document clusters. We are not aware
of an accuracy measure based on the social component of document clusters; such a measure
would be a welcome addition to the literature.
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Textual coherence
The quantity that is used here to measure textual coherence is the Jensen-Shannon (JSD)
divergence (Lin, 1991). It is used to quantify the distance (or divergence) between two (or more)
probability distributions. JSD7 is calculated for each document from the word probability vector
for that document, and from the word probability vector for the cluster in which the document
resides as:
JSD(p, q) = ½ DKL(p, m) + ½ DKL(q, m) (3)
where m = (p+q)/2 and DKL(p, m) = (pi log (pi/mi))
and p is the frequency of a word in a document, q is the frequency of the same word in the
cluster of documents, and D is the well-known Kullback-Leibler divergence. JSD is calculated
for each cluster as the average JSD value over all documents in the cluster.
JSD is a divergence measure, meaning that if the documents in a cluster are very different from
each other, using different sets of words, the JSD value will be very high, or close to 1.0.
Clusters of documents with similar sets of words – a less diverse set of words – will have a lower
divergence. The use of JSD is not limited to sets of words, but is commonly used in
mathematical statistics and statistical physics applications (Grosse et al., 2002), and more
recently in bioinformatics (Sims, Jun, Wu, & Kim, 2009).
JSD varies with cluster size. For example, a cluster with 10 very different documents will have a
larger set of unique elements, and thus a higher divergence value than a cluster with only 3 very
different documents. The maximum possible JSD values for various cluster sizes will occur
when the documents in the cluster have completely different sets of elements. These maximum
divergence clusters can be approximated, for a particular corpus, by forming random clusters of
documents from that corpus. We have calculated JSD values for randomly formed clusters of
different sizes from the study corpus, as shown in Figure 3. Each measured divergence value in
Figure 3 is an average of the divergence values from a very large number of random clusters
(e.g., 5000 random clusters of size 20, 5000 random clusters of size 100, 1000 random clusters of
size 500). A curve fit of the measured values was used to estimate the JSD values for every
cluster size from 2 to 1000. The very small error bars (one standard deviation) on the curve in
Figure 3 show that the random divergence values have a very small variance, and suggest that
JSD is inherently not a noisy measure.
Coherence is calculated from divergence values for each cluster i as:
Cohi = JSD(rand) i – JSD(actual) i (4)
where JSD(rand) is the random divergence for the particular cluster size. The average coherence
value for an entire cluster solution is then calculated as a weighted average:
Coh = ni*Cohi / ni . (5)
7 We use the simplified JSD formulation for two distributions of equal weights used in Sims et al. (2009), also found
on Wikipedia (
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1 10 100 1000
Random JSD
Cluster size (articles)
Figure 3. Divergence (JSD) of random sets of documents by cluster size.
summed over all clusters i where ni is the size of cluster i.
Other studies that have measured within-cluster textual coherence include Braam et al. (1991)
and Jarneving (2007a), although both used different mathematical formulations of coherence.
Concentration of grant-to-article linkages
One of the challenges of comparing text-based and citation-based cluster solutions of a particular
corpus is to find a metric that is independent of both text and citation, and that can be considered
unbiased. Although only citation-based work is reported in this article, our complete study
included both types of approaches. Given that a textual coherence is likely to favor text-based
solutions over citation-based solutions, we needed a second accuracy measure, and one that was
less biased toward either text or citation. In informal conversations about this study it was
suggested8 to us that the grant acknowledgements mined from MEDLINE might be a suitable
dataset from which to design such a metric. A grant-to-article linkage dataset from a previous
study (Boyack, 2009a), consisting of a matched set of grant numbers and PMID, was available
for such a purpose.
In order to measure concentration, one must limit the basis set to those elements that can actually
show a concentrated solution. For example, grants that have only produced one article cannot
differentiate between cluster solutions. Thus, we limited the grant-to-article linkage set to those
grants that have produced a minimum of four articles. The resulting basis set thus consisted of
571,405 separate links between 262,959 unique articles and 43,442 NIH grants.
8 Dr. Bob Schijvenaars of Collexis, Inc. made the suggestion.
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The premise for using these grant-to-article linkages as a metric for measuring the accuracy of a
cluster solution is the assumption that the papers acknowledging a single grant should be highly
related, and should be concentrated in a cluster solution of the document space. Using this
approach, a cluster solution giving a higher concentration of grants would be considered to be
more accurate than one with a lower concentration value. In addition, since grants are not
inherently tied to the clustering of scientific articles either by text or by citations, we consider a
grant-based metric to be unbiased.
We considered several different measures based on grant-to-article linkages including a standard
Herfindahl (or concentration) index and precision-recall curves. The Herfindahl index had the
advantage that it could be calculated on a grant-by-grant basis and then averaged over grants,
thus ensuring high specificity. Its disadvantage is that it would give a single number for
comparison. By contrast, a precision-recall method gives curves that show a distribution of
metric values. The disadvantage of this approach is loss of grant-to-grant specificity; articles in a
cluster might refer to different grants rather than the same grant.
We settled on the precision-recall measure so that we could see the distribution of the results. In
this formulation of precision-recall one orders all clusters in a solution by the fraction of the
articles in the cluster that reference a particular set of grants, and then generates a traditional
precision-recall curve. In this case, recall would be the cumulative fraction of the links present in
the ordered clusters (SumLink/TotLink in Table 4), and precision would be the cumulative
fraction of the articles in the set of clusters retrieved that referenced the set of grants
(SumArtL/SumArt in Table 4). In this setting, precision can be equated with concentration. This
measure should be particularly well suited to comparing maps whose stated purpose is portfolio
analysis since the portfolios that will be analyzed are most often tied to funded grants.
Table 4. Example of cumulative precision-recall calculation based on grant-to-article linkages.
Assume that the total number of linkages (TotLink) available is 2000.
Clust Art ArtL Links Frac SumArt SumArtL SumLink R Pr
1 100 90 150 0.90 100 90 150 0.075 0.900
2 100 80 130 0.80 200 170 280 0.140 0.850
3 100 70 120 0.70 300 240 400 0.200 0.800
Art – number of articles in cluster, ArtL – number of articles in clusters linked to grants, Links – number
of unique links to the ArtL (articles can be linked by more than one grant), Frac – ArtL/Art, Sum* –
cumulative sums, R – recall = SumLink/TotLink, Pr – precision = SumArtL/SumArt.
Since bibliographic coupling, direct citation, and hybrid solutions do not fractionalize articles,
coherence for these approaches was calculated for using the full clustering results. However, co-
citation analysis fractionalizes articles into multiple clusters. This feature cannot be fully
captured by the coherence calculation. Thus, for purposes of comparison, coherence values for
the co-citation solution were calculated using the assumption that each article can be uniquely
assigned to its dominant (highest fractional value) cluster. Textual coherence is shown for the
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four cluster solutions in Figure 4 as a function of cluster size. Each data point represents the
average coherence for all clusters within the size bin.
1 10 100 1000
Level 1 cluster size (articles)
Figure 4. Textual coherence values by cluster size for the four cluster solutions. Only those bins
with 10 or more clusters are shown. The dashed line separates clusters with fewer than 25 articles
from those with 25 or more articles.
Three of the cluster solutions – co-citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, and the hybrid
approach – show very similar results. For each curve, coherence decreases slightly with
increasing cluster size. Although the differences between these three curves are small, they are
measurable given that each curve represents over 30,000 clusters. Of the three approaches, the
hybrid approach gives the highest textual coherence and thus the most accurate solution,
followed closely by bibliographic coupling, and then by co-citation analysis. The direct citation
solution also gives coherence values that decrease with increasing cluster size; however, the
slope is greater and the coherence values much lower than for the other approaches. Although the
direct citation approach does show higher coherence values for small clusters, these make up
only a small part of the full cluster solution. Textual coherence values averaged over all articles
were 0.0875, 0.0860, 0.0817, and 0.0614 for the hybrid, bibliographic coupling, co-citation
analysis, and direct coupling solutions, respectively. We note that the hybrid solution might have
been expected to give a higher textual coherence value simply because the hybrid is based
partially on text components while the other three solutions are not.
Precision-recall curves were calculated for each cluster solution using the entire set of grant-to-
article linkages mentioned above, and are shown in Figure 5. A higher precision value denotes a
higher concentration of papers referencing the set of grants. The bibliographic coupling and
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hybrid approaches have essentially identical curves up to a recall of 70% (0.7), after which the
hybrid curve remains slightly higher than the bibliographic coupling curve. Both of these curves
are higher than the co-citation analysis and direct citation curves up to a recall of over 90%. The
co-citation analysis and direct citation curves are higher at the end because these two solutions
cover a larger fraction of the 571,405 links than do the bibliographic coupling and hybrid
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
Figure 5. Precision-recall curves for each cluster solution based on grant-to-article
linkages. Results are limited to grants with four or more linked articles in the study corpus.
Precision at 80% recall (Pr80) and the maximum value of F1 (a combined precision-recall
statistic) are reported for each cluster solution in Table 5. The maximum F1 values for each
solution occur at recall values between 0.56 and 0.60 for each of the solutions. Herfindahl index
values (weighted by cluster size) for the solutions are also included in Table 5, and show that the
solution order does not change using a different concentration measure, but is in fact
accentuated; the bibliographic coupling and hybrid approaches are far superior to the other two
using this measure.
It was also brought to our attention that different grant types have different properties that might
behave differently in different cluster solutions, and thus could justify different analyses for
different grant types. For example, single-component grants (e.g., NIH grant type R01) are
typically focused on single topics. By contrast, multiple-component grants can include large
center grants that focus on sets of related topics (e.g., NIH grant types M01, P01, P30) and
equipment grants (NIH grant type P41) that may not be referenced in the same way that one
would reference a topic-centered grant. Training grants (T32 type) are another grant type that
may have very different publication patterns.
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Precision-recall curves and statistics were calculated for R01, P01, and P41 types to compare to
the overall results; Pr80 values for these are also in Table 5. The results for the R01 (single-
component) grant type mirror the results for the full set, with the exception that the gap between
the hybrid and bibliographic coupling approaches becomes larger (3.8% to 1.7%) at 80% recall.
For P01 (multi-component) grants, the precision values for the four solutions are in the same
order, and the gap between the hybrid and bibliographic coupling approaches is similar to that of
the overall set (2.0% to 1.7%). These numbers suggest that a hybrid approach is more effective
in a single-topic focus environment than in a multiple-topic environment.
Table 5. Summary of concentration results for the different mapping approaches.
Method F1max (all) Herfindahl Pr80 (all) Pr80 (R01) Pr80 (P01) Pr80 (P41)
CCA 0.4245 0.2378 0.2621 0.2147 0.0654 0.0423
BC 0.4410 0.2849 0.2706 0.2206 0.0692 0.0417
DC 0.4112 0.2037 0.2480 0.2004 0.0639 0.0460
HYB 0.4412 0.2893 0.2752 0.2290 0.0706 0.0420
The results for the P41 (equipment) grant type are very different; the most accurate approach for
these equipment grants is direct citation. Pr80 values for the other three approaches are about
10% less than that for direct citation. This suggests that citing practices for articles
acknowledging equipment grants are fundamentally different from citing practices for articles
acknowledging topic-focused grants. We leave the reasons for these differences to future study.
Defining which method for generating a map of the research front in the biomedical literature
would give the most accurate results involves many dimensions. Of the possible dimensions
involved in this identification we choose four to highlight here. Table 6 shows the values of four
metrics for each of the cluster solutions: computational cost, coverage, textual coherence, and
precision at 80% recall based on grant-to-article linkage information. These are important for
different reasons:
Computational cost – a low computational requirement is desirable for map generation,
particularly since similarity value calculations typically scale with at least the square of
the number of papers.
Coverage – high coverage is necessary to allow for accurate portfolio analysis.
Coherence – document clusters should be tightly focused in terms of their content
Precision – document clusters should concentrate information from a grant-related
standpoint to be more meaningful for portfolio analysis.
A comparison of the four similarity approaches shows that all three pure citation-based
approaches have similar computational costs, while the hybrid approach has a higher
computational cost. The hybrid approach took roughly 50% longer to calculate than did the
bibliographic coupling approach due to the much larger number of co-occurrence values that
needed to be calculated. Addition of citing:word pairs to the citing:cited pairs increased the total
number of bibliographic coupling counts in the hybrid set by a factor of 3 over that for the pure
bibliographic coupling approach. The co-citation approach had the highest coverage with
98.37% of the articles in the corpus being assigned to clusters. This was followed closely by the
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bibliographic coupling and hybrid approaches with over 96.6% each. Given that coverage for all
approaches was over 92%, and given that the differences in computation costs between the
approaches are not prohibitive, we consider these to be the least important factors in
differentiating between the mapping approaches.
Table 6. Summary of results for the different mapping approaches.
Method Comp Cost Coverage Coh Coh vs. BC Pr80 (all) Pr80 vs. BC
CCA Low 98.37%
0.0817 -5.0% 0.2621 -3.1%
BC Low 96.62% 0.0860 -- 0.2706 --
DC Low 92.68% 0.0614 -28.6% 0.2480 -8.4%
HYB Medium 96.83%
0.0875 +1.7% 0.2752 +1.7%
Among the pure citation-based approaches, bibliographic coupling had the highest values using
both the coherence and grant concentration metrics, and is thus considered the most accurate of
the three approaches at representing the research front. Co-citation analysis was a close second,
with coherence and concentration values only a few percent (5.0% and 3.1%, respectively) lower
than those for bibliographic coupling. Direct citation is clearly the least accurate approach among
those tested.
The hybrid approach, although computationally more expensive than bibliographic coupling,
improved upon the bibliographic coupling solution in all respects – with higher coverage (by
0.2%) and higher coherence and concentration values (by 1.7%). Although these are modest
gains, they establish the fact that the addition of textual information to citation-based approaches
can increase their accuracy at the scale of millions of articles. We fully expect that
experimentation with different hybrid formulations would lead to further gains in accuracy. The
work by Liu et al. (2010) with a large number of hybrid formulations suggests this as well.
In this study we sought to answer the question as to which citation-based mapping approach
would generate the most accurate cluster solution (or science map) of the research front in the
biomedical literature. To do this, we identified a large corpus (2.15 million articles) and
generated cluster solutions using three standard citation-based approaches – co-citation analysis,
bibliographic coupling, and direct citation – and one hybrid approach. A relatively complete
corpus is necessary for portfolio analysis, the stated application of our work. Use of a smaller
data set, or reduction of a large data set to ‘core’ documents (Jarneving, 2007a) would simply not
be sufficient for this application.
Two different accuracy measures were used to compare the results from the four approaches. Of
the pure citation-based approaches, bibliographic coupling gave the most accurate solution,
followed closely by co-citation analysis. The bibliographic coupling-based hybrid had slightly
higher accuracy than the pure bibliographic coupling approach.
This study also introduced a new approach to comparing the accuracy of cluster solutions. We
used grant-to-article linkages from the grant acknowledgements in MEDLINE to calculate a
precision-recall statistic showing how these linkages were more or less concentrated in different
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
cluster solutions. A cluster solution with a higher concentration of grant-to-article linkages is
considered more accurate than a solution that provides a lower concentration. This method is
based on the assumption that articles from a single grant should be concentrated together in a
cluster solution. We fully recognize that this type of metric can only be used when grant-to-
article linkage data are available, and that such data are relatively scarce except in the
MEDLINE/NIH context.
Of the accuracy studies reviewed in the background section of this article, only two directly
compared multiple citation-based mapping approaches in a quantitative fashion. The results of
those two studies are compared with the results of this study in Table 7.
Table 7. Comparison of results from accuracy studies of citation-based mapping approaches.
Study #Articles Links used Methods
Couto et al. (2006) 6,880 Internal, external for BC Amsler > BC > CCC
Shibata et al. (2009) 23,459 (max) Internal only DC > BC > CCC
This study (2010) 2,081,022 (BC) Internal, external for BC, CCA BC > CCA > DC
CCC – co-citation clustering
Given that 1) the corpus used in this study is two orders of magnitude larger than that used in the
larger of the two previous studies, 2) both internal and external linkages were used, and 3) full
co-citation analysis was used instead of co-citation clustering, we consider the results of this
study to be very robust. Among pure citation-based approaches, the research front is most
accurately represented on a large scale by bibliographic coupling. Addition of textual
information to the citation information in a bibliographic coupling approach increases the
accuracy of the solution. These global findings do not exclude the possibility that for some local
environments another approach may be more accurate. In fact, our results showing that direct
citation was more accurate with regard to the literature associated with instrumentation grants is
an example of such a local environment.
We note, once again, that the simple hybrid approach used here is only a first trial at a hybrid
approach. The constraints used (a severe limiting of the word distribution) were done to keep
processing time to a minimum and still explore the borders of the hybrid space. It is expected
that additional experimentation would produce a hybrid approach with even higher accuracy.
This study adds to the growing body of results at both the journal and document level showing
that text-citation hybrid approaches have the potential to outperform approaches based solely on
either text or citation. We will explore this idea further in future publications that report the
results of the text-based approaches that were a part of our large NIH study.
Finally, we note that most of the data from this study, the list of PMID, titles and abstracts,
similarity files, article-to-cluster assignments, and coherence results are available for download
at We invite others to use these data to make further comparisons;
they should be very suitable for the development and testing of similarity approaches, clustering
algorithms and accuracy measurement approaches.
This is a preprint version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology ©2010 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
This work was supported by NIH SBIR Contract HHSN268200900053C. Russell Duhon,
Indiana University extracted words from the titles and abstracts of documents in the corpus for
use in the hybrid approach. We also acknowledge insightful comments and suggestions from the
reviewers of the original manuscript.
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... Additionally, the thickness of the linkage between them represents the frequency at which they are cited (Boyack & Klavans, 2010). ...
... Un análisis de co-citación aplica pesos que corresponden a la fuerza de las cocitaciones, donde un valor mayor indica una mayor tendencia a que los autores o las revistas sean citadas juntas en el mismo artículo. La idea en la que se basa el análisis de co-citación es que los artículos de los investigadores que se co-citan a menudo es probable que aborden ideas similares o relacionadas [43]. En este sentido, el mencionado software VOSviewer crea una matriz de co-citación utilizando la técnica de agrupamiento o clustering de Van Eck [44] para mostrar grupos de publicaciones estrechamente relacionadas. ...
Este libro presenta un estudio acerca de las tecnologías digitales disruptivas (Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Blockchain y otras) que se han aplicado a la gestión de la pandemia ocasionada por la COVID-19. La investigación se ha llevado a cabo a través de un análisis cienciométrico -basado en minería de textos- de la producción científica publicada al respecto a lo largo de un período de año y medio (2020 y mitad de 2021) y, a este respecto, se ha considerado Scopus como fuente de datos principal y Web of Science como secundaria (a efectos comparativos). De esta manera, por medio de la utilización del potente software VOSviewer, se ofrecen multitud de resultados -ilustrados por los correspondientes mapas bibliométricos- como la evolución temporal del número de publicaciones, la producción y el número de coautorías por países, los temas (topics) y autores más prolíficos o un ranking de los artículos más referenciados. En definitiva, en este libro, se pretende ofrecer una visión lo más completa y actualizada posible de cómo la inteligencia artificial y ciertas tecnologías digitales emergentes han contribuido, de manera esencial, a cuestiones de predicción, seguimiento, diagnóstico, tratamiento y prevención de la COVID-19.
The use of bibliometric analysis in behavioral finance is relatively new, and techniques such as performance analysis and scientific mapping analysis have simplified the statistical examination of research articles across areas. This article reviews global research patterns in behavioral finance to provide a scientific basis for the study of behavioral aspects of finance. This article investigates the fundamental characteristics of scientific production in the domain and identifies various interrelationships using bibliometric mapping through R. This study employed Biblioshiny as a software tool to conduct performance analysis and scientific mapping of behavioral finance literature. The findings indicate that there has been a significant increase in publications in the last decade; 92.3% of researchers contributed a single article, 6% contributed two articles, 1.5% contributed three documents and 0.1% contributed four papers. Regarding the overall production of articles, India, USA and China were the leading countries. The Journal of Behavioral Finance is found to be the leading journal in the discipline of behavioral finance. The findings also reveal that there has been a significant increase in collaborations and average production of documents throughout the world. The article also addresses implications for financial behavior and can act as a basis for future research trends.
Knowledge management has received increasing attention from scholars. However, the understanding of this literature in the context of family firms remains fragmented. Different positions suggest that the inherent features of family businesses indicate the importance of considering the context. In this chapter, the authors aim to extend the understanding of knowledge management in the context of family firms. They achieve this by identifying the intellectual structure and evolution of the knowledge management corpus using bibliometric techniques applied to authors, universities, countries, and supranational regions. The analysis is complemented by the application of distance-based mapping techniques at the level of authors and publishers, enabling exploration of the historical dynamics and knowledge flows among management disciplines. The contribution of this chapter to the management literature lies in the provision of deep insights into this young and fertile stream of research, ultimately building bridges between both fields of research.
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Background: Systematic literature review (SLR) is increasingly utilized to maximize the element of rigor and minimize the individual bias of research synthesis. An analysis of the Web of Science (WoS) database indicates that 90% of the literature review studies using SLR have been published between 2012 and 2022. However, this progressive agenda is impaired by the lack of methodological consistency and rigorousness. To fill this gap, this paper aims at mapping the theoretical comprehension and practices of SLR and providing a stepwise approach to employing such a framework. Methods: A comprehensive narrative review is used in this paper to analyze the studies concerning the literature review typology and the structural assessment of the SLR. Furthermore, the methodological approach of the literature review studies that adopted the SLR and were published in the Logistics journal is assessed across a set of vital criteria associated with conducting an SLR. Results: There is a concrete link between the purpose of a review, i.e., to describe, test, extend, or critique, and the literature review type. There are 17 distinct literature review types, e.g., a narrative review, a bibliometric analysis, etc., which must be justified meticulously regardless of the SLR. The ambiguity in conceiving the SLR either as a toolkit or a review type, the lack of justification regarding the review purpose and type, and vague conceptual distinguishment between the bibliometric analysis, as a distinct review type, and the SLR framework, are only a few of the shortcomings observed in the analyzed papers. Conclusions: Given the significant role of SLR in elevating the element of rigor within the literature review studies, it is deemed essential to employ this framework by paying attention to two holistic factors: (1) theoretical distinction between the literature review purpose, the literature review type, and the SLR; (2) strict adherence to the SLR procedure with a high degree of accuracy and explicitness.
As a rapidly developing topic, online reviews have aroused great interest among researchers. Although the existing research can help to explain issues related to online reviews, the scattered and diversified nature of previous research hinders an overall understanding of this area. Based on bibliometrics, this study analyzes 3089 primary articles and 100,783 secondary articles published between 2003 and 2022. We comprehensively and objectively describe the development status of online reviews, show the evolutionary process of the knowledge structure of online reviews, and suggest research directions based on the analysis results. This article validates and expands previous literature reviews, helps scholars understand relevant knowledge about online reviews, and contributes to the development of online reviews.
Purpose The authors systematically review empirical dyadic service encounter research published in top-tier journals between 1972 and 2022. Design/methodology/approach The authors employed bibliometric techniques, co-citation analysis and bibliographic coupling analysis to map schools of thought and research frontiers within the dyadic service encounter literature. In total, the authors analyzed 155 articles. To ensure inclusion of high-quality research, the authors screened articles from 139 journals with “4” or “4*” ratings on the 2021 Chartered Association of Business Schools (ABS) journal list, in addition to articles published in three service sector-specific journals: Journal of Service Management, Journal of Services Marketing and Journal of Service Theory and Practice . Findings The authors' co-citation analysis identified four distinct clusters within the dyadic service encounter literature: (1) shaping and explaining service encounters; (2) emotions in service work; (3) modeling, manipulating and measuring encounter service quality and (4) emotional labor and regulation in dyadic service encounters. Furthermore, the authors' bibliographic coupling analysis generated three research clusters: (1) service encounter characteristics; (2) emotions and emotional labor and (3) service encounter interaction content. Originality/value The authors' comprehensive review synthesizes knowledge, summarizing similarities among research clusters within the service encounter realm. Noteworthy are research clusters that clarify the emotion-based underpinnings and reciprocal nature of behaviors and emotions within dyadic encounters. By conducting complementary bibliometric analyses, the authors trace the evolution of the service encounter literature, providing an overview of the present state of dyadic service encounter research. These analyses offer valuable insights into the current landscape of the field, identifying future dyadic service encounter research opportunities.
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This report concerns the publication and citation performance of researchers within seven research programs financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). Papers published by 118 researchers are compared with papers published by their international colleagues during the same time period, i.e. 2002–2007. Results indicate that the citation impact is significantly above international reference levels: SEPA programs receive 31% higher citation scores in their journals; this translates to a field-normalized impact of 66% above world average. This can be explained by the fact that researchers financed by the SEPA publish in journals with high impact-levels – 34% above the global reference value (see Table 3, page 9). Papers from SEPA financed programs occur about 140% more often than expected among the top 5% most frequently cited papers in their subfields. This finding shows there is an extensive core of highly cited papers. The overall quality of the publications funded by the programs is impressive.
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Existing input-output studies designed to inform science policy have been largely based on aggregated and unlinked funding and literature data rather than actual grant-article linkages. Linked grant-article data are lacking in most cases, and have not been cleaned and systematically studied on a large scale in cases where they do exist. This study presents the first large scale cleaning and linking of grant string information from the Medline database to the grant numbers in grant databases. Distributions and analyses derived from 577,941 individual grant-article linkages are reported. Limitations and suggestions for future research are also described.
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We document an open-source toolbox for drawing large-scale undirected graphs. This toolbox is based on a previously implemented closed-source algorithm known as VxOrd. Our toolbox, which we call OpenOrd, extends the capabilities of VxOrd to large graph layout by incorporating edge-cutting, a multi-level approach, average-link clustering, and a parallel implementation. At each level, vertices are grouped using force-directed layout and average-link clustering. The clustered vertices are then re-drawn and the process is repeated. When a suitable drawing of the coarsened graph is obtained, the algorithm is reversed to obtain a drawing of the original graph. This approach results in layouts of large graphs which incorporate both local and global structure. A detailed description of the algorithm is provided in this paper. Examples using datasets with over 600K nodes are given. Code is available at
The claim that co-citation analysis is a useful tool to map subject-matter specialties of scientific research in a given period, is examined. A method has been developed using quantitative analysis of content-words related to publications in order to: (1) study coherence of research topics within sets of publications citing clusters, i.e., (part of) the “current work” of a specialty; (2) to study differences in research topics between sets of publications citing different clusters; and (3) to evaluate recall of “current work” publications concerning the specialties identified by co-citation analysis. Empirical support is found for the claim that co-citation analysis identifies indeed subject-matter specialties. However, different clusters may identify the same specialty, and results are far from complete concerning the identified “current work.” These results are in accordance with the opinion of some experts in the fields. Low recall of co-citation analysis concerning the “current work” of specialties is shown to be related to the way in which researchers build their work on earlier publications: the “missed” publications equally build on very recent earlier work, but are less “consensual” and/or less “attentive” in their referencing practice. Evaluation of national research performance using co-citation analysis appears to be biased by this “incompleteness.”
Conference Paper
This paper deals with document-document similarity approaches, the issue of similarity order, and clustering methods, in the context of science mapping. Using two data sets of bibliographic records, associated with the fields of information retrieval and scientometrics, we investigate how well two document-document similarity approaches, a text-based approach and bibliographic coupling, agree with ground truth classifications (obtained by subject experts), under first-order and second-order similarities, and under four different clustering methods. The clustering methods are average linkage, complete linkage, Ward's method and consensus clustering. The performance of first-order and second-order similarities is compared within the two document-document similarity approaches, and under each clustering method. We also compare the performance of the clustering methods. The results show that the text-based approach consistently outperformed bibliographic coupling with regard to the information retrieval data set, but performed consistently worse than the latter approach regarding the scientometrics data set. For the similarity order issue, second-order similarities performed better than firstorder in 12 out of 16 cases. Average linkage had the best overall performance among the clustering methods, followed by consensus clustering. The main conclusion of the study is that second-order similarities seem to be a better choice than first-order in the science mapping context.
Chaque annee l'Institut for Scientific Information (ISI) entreprend une analyse de sa banque de donnees, derivee du Science Citation Index et du Social Science Citation Index. Le but de cette analyse est de creer des «cartes de la science» qui montrent la topographie des sciences a divers niveaux d'agregation. Cette technique est encore dans l'enfance mais fait apparaitre des structures interessantes. Une analyse de ces cartes et de la methode utilisee est proposee. (INTD)
Science mapping projects have been revived by the advent of virtual reality software capable of navigating large synthetic three dimensional spaces. Unlike the earlier mapping efforts aimed at creating simple maps at either a global or local level, the focus is now on creating large scale maps displaying many thousands of documents which can be input into the new VR systems. This paper presents a general framework for creating large scale document spaces as well as some new methods which perform some of the individual processing steps. The methods are designed primarily for citation data but could be applied to other types of data, including hypertext links.