Acting Hot or Not? Testing the Citing to Show-Off Hypothesis

Jeppe Nicolaisen*, Tove Faber Frandsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: Citation analysis as a method for studying scientific communication is frequently criticized for being based on biased citation practices. Questionable motives for the reference selection have been suggested including the claim that authors tend to cite hot papers in order to show-off. In this study, the authors investigate the claim that authors tend to cite the recent literature in order to show-off. Design/methodology/approach: Following Moed and Garfield (2004), the authors investigate the claim by analyzing the proportion of recent references as a function of the length of the reference lists of citing papers. The authors analyze reference lists of citing papers in the fields of biomedical engineering, economics, medicine, psychology and library and information science between 2010 and 2019. From each of these fields, a number of journals are included in the analysis to represent the field. In total, 42 journals are included in the analyses comprising a selection of almost 65,000 journal articles. The proportion of recent references is calculated using two citation windows. The proportion of recent references as a function of the length of the reference lists is calculated through simple linear regressions to predict the share of recent references based on the number of references. Findings: The results of the linear regressions indicate that in most cases, there are a statistically significant relationship between the share of recent references and the number of references. This study’s results show that when authors display selective referencing behavior, references to the recent literature tend to be only marginally increased, and some results even display the opposite tendency (marginally overciting the older literature). Originality/value: This study of the claim that authors tend to cite the recent literature in order to show-off does not confirm the hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Documentation
ISSN0022-0418
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18. Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Bibliometrics
  • Citation analysis
  • Citation behavior
  • Citer motivations

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