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Co-Citation Analyses of Science: An Evaluation

Daniel Sullivan, D. Hywel White and Edward J. Barboni
Social Studies of Science
Vol. 7, No. 2, Theme Issue: Citation Studies of Scientific Specialties (May, 1977), pp. 223-240
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/284876
Page Count: 18
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Co-Citation Analyses of Science: An Evaluation
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Abstract

A series of claims for the technique of co-citation analysis have been made by Henry Small and collaborators. The first and most important claim is that co-citation clusters 'reflect the... cognitive structures of research specialties'. A second claim is that the 'current population of publishing specialists is... the group of citing authors for the [co-citation] cluster'. And a third claim, related to the second, is that 'using the same [co-citation] thresholds each year the growth of the specialty can be gauged in terms of growth of the cluster'. Using citation data and historical data from a study of a specialty in elementary particle physics (the physics of weak interactions), support is found only for the first claim. It is concluded that co-citation analysis is a useful technique when used in conjunction with other approaches to the study of science. It provides new information about changes in the intellectual structure of scientific specialties, but claims on behalf of the technique have been much too strong.

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