Update on Journal-to-Journal Citation

In the previous post, I mentioned some problems with Web of Knowledge. It might be best to say what these are more explicitly. (I’m grateful here to work Neil Levy did.)

  • Web of Knowledge doesn’t include ‘early view’ articles on a journal website, and is a little slow to update on recent issues.
  • Web of Knowledge doesn’t survey at all some journals, especially newer journals. (The most notable absence I’ve found so far is Philosophers’ Imprint, but obviously there are many others.)
  • Web of Knowledge, by design, doesn’t cover citations in edited volumes.
  • Web of Knowledge isn’t great for citations of things it doesn’t track cites in. So it isn’t great for citations of things in either newer journals, or edited volumes. Note that there aren’t many such articles in the Healy list; it would be interesting to see whether that’s a consequence of gaps in Web of Knowledge. I haven’t found an article that’s missing but should be there, but I haven’t looked hard. (I did check one article. But for all its citations, Epistemic Modals in Context hasn’t turned up much in the big 4 journals.)

That said, Web of Knowledge is not bad for citations in top journals of articles in top journals, provided you allow for some lag time. And that’s why I’ve focussed on journal-to-journal citation.

I’ve had some requests for looking at other relatively general journals. I actually wasn’t originally that interested in them; I was interested in the specialist journals, and wanted the more general journals as baseline. But for interest, here are the numbers for PPR.

Journal of Philosophy: 31
Mind: 41
Philosophical Review: 34

Brian Leiter summarised the data as saying these three journals cite other journals not a lot. I think that’s half-true; these three journals cite other journals with similar missions (e.g., Philosophical Studies, or Philosophy and Phenomenological Research) plenty. What they don’t do is cite the specialist journals, even ones on issues that I would have thought were pretty important parts of philosophy, such as feminism and legal theory.

One last data point about self-citation, because I really want to drive home the point that this isn’t something distinctive to the top journals. The number of articles in Philosophical Quarterly that cite other articles from 2000-2013 in Philosophical Quarterly is 106. Over the same period, it cites the Journal of Philosophy 14 times, and Philosophical Review 11 times. This is in part because, like Mind, Philosophical Quarterly has an active, and very good, discussion section. (One that I’ve been happy to publish in.) It is also in part because it has established itself as a home for certain discussions (especially about anthropic principle type reasoning), and these articles cite the leading articles in this discussion, which of course are in the Quarterly. There’s nothing particularly nefarious going on here, it’s part of running a good journal.

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