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Do Article Influence scores overestimate the citation impact of social science journals in subfields that are related to higher-impact natural science disciplines?


  • Walters, William H.


Unlike Impact Factors (IF), Article Influence (AI) scores assign greater weight to citations that appear in highly cited journals. The natural sciences tend to have higher citation rates than the social sciences. We might therefore expect that relative to IF, AI overestimates the citation impact of social science journals in subfields that are related to (and presumably cited in) higher-impact natural science disciplines. This study evaluates that assertion through a set of simple and multiple regressions covering seven social science disciplines: anthropology, communication, economics, education, library and information science, psychology, and sociology. Contrary to expectations, AI underestimates 5IF (five-year Impact Factor) for journals in science-related subfields such as scientific communication, science education, scientometrics, biopsychology, and medical sociology. Journals in these subfields have low AI scores relative to their 5IF values. Moreover, the effect of science-related status is considerable—typically 0.60 5IF units or 0.50 SD. This effect is independent of the more general finding that AI scores underestimate 5IF for higher-impact journals. It is also independent of the very modest curvilinearity in the relationship between AI and 5IF.

Suggested Citation

  • Walters, William H., 2014. "Do Article Influence scores overestimate the citation impact of social science journals in subfields that are related to higher-impact natural science disciplines?," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 421-430.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:infome:v:8:y:2014:i:2:p:421-430
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2014.02.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chia-Lin Chang & Michael McAleer & Les Oxley, 2011. "What makes a great journal great in the sciences? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 87(1), pages 17-40, April.
    2. Moed, Henk F., 2010. "Measuring contextual citation impact of scientific journals," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 265-277.
    3. Chia‐Lin Chang & Michael McAleer & Les Oxley, 2011. "What Makes A Great Journal Great In Economics? The Singer Not The Song," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 326-361, April.
    4. repec:bla:jamist:v:60:y:2009:i:1:p:27-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kristie M. Engemann & Howard J. Wall, 2009. "A journal ranking for the ambitious economist," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue may, pages 127-140.
    6. Franceschet, Massimo, 2010. "Journal influence factors," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 239-248.
    7. Liebowitz, S J & Palmer, J P, 1984. "Assessing the Relative Impacts of Economic Journals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 77-88, March.
    8. Waltman, Ludo & van Eck, Nees Jan & van Leeuwen, Thed N. & Visser, Martijn S., 2013. "Some modifications to the SNIP journal impact indicator," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 272-285.
    9. Benjamin M. Althouse & Jevin D. West & Carl T. Bergstrom & Theodore Bergstrom, 2009. "Differences in impact factor across fields and over time," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 60(1), pages 27-34, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Waltman, Ludo, 2016. "A review of the literature on citation impact indicators," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 365-391.
    2. Dašić Predrag, 2015. "State and Analysis of Scientific Journals in the Field of “Economic Sciences” for the Period 1995-2014," Economic Themes, Sciendo, vol. 53(4), pages 547-581, December.


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