How often do journals cite other journals?

I’ve been playing around with the data about citation patterns in top journals of recent articles, and I started to think that a lot of it was very noisy. So I was looking for ways to aggregate the data that would be revealing. I decided to look at how many times recent articles, that is articles from 2000 onwards, from different journals were cited in each of the ‘top 3’ philosophy journals – Journal of Philosophy, Mind and Philosophical Review. A few disclaimers before I start.

  • This data is all from Web of Knowledge, with all the problems that entails.
  • The number of articles in each of the top 3 journals in the time period in question is 489 in Journal of Philosophy, 1589 in Mind, and 672 in Philosophical Review, though most of those in Mind and the Review are book reviews. (I thought previously that book reviews in Mind and the Review were treated differently by Web of Knowledge. That was a mistake.)
  • I’m not including Nous in this because Web of Knowledge treats Philosophical Issues and some years of Philosophical Perspectives as special issues of Nous, and separating out those from genuine issues of Nous is too hard for me to do with any accuracy.
  • The counts below are of how many articles in each of the top 3 journals cite any article from the ‘source’ journal published in 2000-2013. In practice, this undercounts how many times the top 3 journal cites the source journal, since of course an article might cite multiple articles from the 1 source.

That said, here are the data. I’ll leave commentary on the data for another time, because they are interesting enough on their own. I would be very interested in hearing in the comments for suggestions for other journals that might suitably be analysed this way.

Citing Journal
Source Journal of Philosophy      Mind      Philosophical Review
Journal of Philosophy 74 33 26
Mind 19 177 24
Philosophical Review 24 32 48
Philosophical Studies 57 56 35
Philosophical Quarterly 14 32 11
Australasian Journal of Philosophy 16 20 15
Ethics 15 16 12
Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 3 3
Philosophy of Science 21 8 10
BJPS 14 14 8
Linguistics and Philosophy 6 13 13
Mind and Language 12 15 5
Journal of Philosophical Logic 3 16 2
Journal of Symbolic Logic 1 3 1
Hypatia 0 0 1
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 1 2 2
Law and Philosophy 1 0 0
Legal Theory 1 1 0

UPDATE 7/12: I’ve added some more thoughts in a new post.

5 Replies to “How often do journals cite other journals?”

  1. Very interesting, Brian! Two things that stand out to me: the huge same-journal citation advantage and the huge dropoff — including the complete non-representation of many journals. Did you see my post on citations of leading analytic vs. Continental authors at the big three journals (“The Ghettoization of Nietzsche” at the Splintered Mind)? A similar lesson in in-group thinking by the big three journals, in my mind.

  2. Yep, that was a great post. And the drop-off when you get to the five journals at the bottom of the list is crazy; these are fundamental areas of philosophy just getting left off the agenda. Some of that is self-selection by authors, but surely not all of it.

    The self-citation thing is true across all journals. If I’d run the grid out to 18*18 rather than 18*3, you’d see the central diagonal bulging compared to all of the rest. The self-citation rate in the Review is actually surprisingly low. It’s in part because there’s no such thing as a general philosophy journal, and in part because some journals (especially Mind) love discussions. But that’s hardly a full explanation.

  3. Brian, are these numbers for the total number of self-citations, period, or for the number of articles self-cited? If the former, then I wonder how much the data are influenced by particular articles that happen to have generated a great deal of discussion in the journals where they were published.

  4. My original response was to be totally unsurprised by the self-citation bulge, but then I looked at your numbers a little more. According to the data, only 74 out of 489 articles in the Journal of Philosophy cite other articles from that journal. That number seems low given that book reviews are not included.

    I was also wondering why you chose to include some of the specialist journals at the end instead of some bigger name (but not “top three”) generalist journals (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research comes to mind)?

  5. Neither John – the number in each cell is the number of articles in the journal of that column, which cite at least one article by the journal of that row.

    So like Corey, I’m not too surprised by the self-citation bulge. It is (as John says) a combination of articles that generate a lot of discussion in that journal, plus the large number of discussion sections in Mind, which will of course cite other articles in Mind.

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