Indices of usefulness May 28, 2014Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, papers, research.
Tags: citations, conference, index, papers, publications, research
While tootling around on IEEE Explore, I noticed the metrics tab on many of the articles. I’d never really looked at it before. (I’d seen it was there, but never paid much heed.) I clicked on it and thought,
OMG! Someone looked at my paper!
That was kind of cool. I wasn’t sure if that meant that someone just looked at the online page that includes the abstract or read the actual paper. According to IEEE, “Usage includes PDF downloads and HTML Views.” Awesome.
Except I noticed something rather disturbing. I have one paper that has been looked at over 200 times, but hasn’t been cited once. On the other hand, I have another paper that has a fraction of the views but has been cited several times. To be perfectly honest, I consider the first paper to be far better than the second one. Then there’s a third one with several more citations than any of my other papers but barely has been looked at. And I consider this paper rather…Ugh.
This left me pondering: why do some papers get cited while others don’t. I don’t think quality is the issue because, as I mentioned, the papers that are cited more are ones that I consider to be some of my less favorite papers. I don’t think innovation is an issue, either (although for some people it is).
I have noticed that papers with co-authors who travel a lot to conferences get more citations than other, better papers (although these papers are usually cited as examples of particular applications and not so much for foundational material). And conference papers seem to be cited more than journal papers. Going on that, I’m starting to wonder how much of citation (at least in my field) tends to be more of an issue of looking for certain authors (particularly ones they’ve seen at conferences) versus doing an in-depth lit review.
Given how I don’t like to travel a whole lot, this does not bode well. It’s also a bit disconcerting to think that the only thing that matters is actual citations when an uncited work could actually be having a bigger impact and wider readership than a cited work.