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Web citation data for impact assessment: A comparison of four science disciplines

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Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

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The number and type of Web citations to journal articles in four areas of science are examined: biology, genetics, medicine, and multidisciplinary sciences. For a sample of 5,972 articles published in 114 journals, the median Web citation counts per journal article range from 6.2 in medicine to 10.4 in genetics. About 30% of Web citations in each area indicate intellectual impact (citations from articles or class readings, in contrast to citations from bibliographic services or the author's or journal's home page). Journals receiving more Web citations also have higher percentages of citations indicating intellectual impact. There is significant correlation between the number of citations reported in the databases from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI, now Thomson Scientific) and the number of citations retrieved using the Google search engine (Web citations). The correlation is much weaker for journals published outside the United Kingdom or United States and for multidisciplinary journals. Web citation numbers are higher than ISI citation counts, suggesting that Web searches might be conducted for an earlier or a more fine-grained assessment of an article's impact. The Web-evident impact of non-UK/USA publications might provide a balance to the geographic or cultural biases observed in ISI's data, although the stability of Web citation counts is debatable. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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