The relationship between usage and citations in an open access mega journal

02/04/2019
by   Barbara McGillivray, et al.
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How does usage of an article relate to the number of citations it accrues? Does the timeframe in which an article is used (and how much that article is used) have an effect on when and how much that article is cited? What role does an article's subject area play in the relationship between usage and citations? This paper aims to answer these questions through an observational study of usage and citation data collected about a multidisciplinary, open access mega journal, Scientific Reports. We find that while the direct correlation between usage and citations is only moderate at best, the relationship between how early and how much an article is used and how early it is cited is much clearer. What is more, we find that when an article is cited earlier it is also cited more often, leading to the assertion that if an article is more highly accessed early on, it is more likely to be cited earlier and more often. As Scientific Reports is a multidisciplinary journal covering all natural and clinical sciences, this study was also able to look at the differences across subject areas and found some interesting variations when comparing the major subject areas covered by the journal (i.e. biological, Earth, physical and health sciences).

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