Citation patters in the social sciences (and more so in the humanities) are very low compared to the STEM sciences (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). There is a huge gap between how often academics in the STEM subjects and academics in the social sciences and humanities cite the research of other scholars to provide background to their own arguments. For example in the natural sciences the citation rate is six times greater than in the humanities, see Patrick Dunleavy for the stats.
That’s why at the Toolbox, we have a mini-series on citation practices.
Citations can nowadays be more than just pointing to a reference. You can connect the reader in instantly to the full text of your sources, ideally with just a single mouse click. Therefore, the open access versions of a text should be treated as a primary source. But how do you quote “born digital” works correctly? For example, page numbers as well as volume and issue numbers can become irrelevant.
Instead, there are two new types of modern reference data:
- The shortened URL for the text in the online repository of your university or research institution. It doesn’t have to be a long, messy URL: on bitly.com (or other similar sites) you can enter a long URL and get a compact and version that fits easily into any reference list.
- The DOI name (for magazine articles and books). The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a persistent identifier that is used to permanently cite and link electronic resources (texts, research data, or other content). More information on DOI names and how they work can be found on our Toolbox.
This is important because Google Scholar Metrics (Google), Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics), Scopus (Elsevier) and similar databases or service providers such as Crossref can link these sources and allow scholars to see who cites their works (and how often).
More on citation tracking in our next post…