The Development and future of book citations

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The scholarly community has been using citations to study how journal articles are used and their influence on research for over half a century. For books it has always been a challenge to obtain and analyze citations, with data sources only becoming available in the last decade. However, assessing how books are cited offers insights into research impact and quality, as well as into the performance of various publishing programs. Moreover, authors also report that citations are an important metric in measuring the success of their books.

Given the potential importance of book citations analysis Springer Nature undertook a study of Scopus book citation data and this recently published white paper outlines the findings and outcomes:

  • Scholarly books are valuable tools in research communications and progress, where citation rates are used by researchers, publishers, and libraries alike as key indicators of books’ success, quality, and/or impact within and across the disciplines. 
  • Books published in thematic series often earn a greater ratio of citations over their lifetime, compared to stand-alone titles. 
  • The overall high share of cited books highlights the importance of the book format for scientific communications – across disciplines. 
  • Time to peak citations varies across disciplines, highlighting how fast-moving domains, such as life and physical sciences, reach their citation half-life sooner than humanities and social science fields. This emphasizes the relevance of the book in disciplines beyond HSS. 
  • Book citation analysis is a relatively new area of study and, aided by a variety of book citation indices, new opportunities exist to understand how books are used to further the research lifecycle.

"This white paper can be seen as a step toward a more comprehensive and more systematic understanding of the role of books in scholarly knowledge dissemination"

Ludo Waltman, Professor of Quantitative Science Studies

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