A sociologist argues on page 395 of this week’s issue of Science that making scholarly articles available online has narrowed citations to more recent and less diverse articles than before–the opposite of what most people expected. (…) Oddly, “our studies show the opposite,” says Carol Tenopir,(…). She (…), have surveyed thousands of scientists over the years for their scholarly reading habits. They found that scientists are reading older articles and reading more broadly–at least one article a year from 23 different journals, compared with 13 journals in the late 1970s.
I turned to the article on “Citation Communities” in Berkshire’s Encyclopedia of Community (Christensen et al., editors, Sage 2004) to get the background, and also talked to scholars who understand better than I exactly how important citations are in the academic world. My personal concern is that people should know about similar work being done – because we learn from one another, and because the idea of vast amounts of research money being spent on duplicate efforts appalls me. But scholars care abaout citations for practical reasons, too: being cited can help them when they have job reviews, and raises their status in their academic department and knowledge community.
I have been thinking about the need for updates to the Encyclopedia of Community, given the many changes that have taken place since 2004. This is certainly one article that needs to take account of the changes of the last six years, and to assess the research that’s been done so far to determine the effects of online publishing and online academic social networking services (which bubble up now and then: I take a look, am awed by the grant money they’ve managed to get hold of, and never hear about them again). I’m posting the article “Citation Communities” from the Encyclopedia of Community here, for your reading pleasure. Some cool subheadings, by the way: “Intercitation and Cocitation” and “Intellectual Versus Social Ties.” Comments are most welcome.
“Citation Communities” from the Encyclopedia of Community (Christensen et al., editors, Sage 2004)
Citation communities are abstract networks that are built up as authors cite other authors in the footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies of learned literatures, especially when citations are made repeatedly. These communities contain not only acquaintances but persons the citer has never met, the dead as well as the living. Their chief significance is that they are reasonably objective manifestations of key evolutionary units of science and scholarship, whether these are called invisible colleges, discourse communities, schools of thought, disciplinary specialties, theory groups, or cultural networks (Randall Collins