Information Retrieval

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 101-131

First online:

Document clustering of scientific texts using citation contexts

  • Bader AljaberAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science and Software Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • , Nicola StokesAffiliated withSchool of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin
  • , James BaileyAffiliated withNICTA Victoria Laboratory, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, The University of Melbourne Email author 
  • , Jian PeiAffiliated withSchool of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University

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Document clustering has many important applications in the area of data mining and information retrieval. Many existing document clustering techniques use the “bag-of-words” model to represent the content of a document. However, this representation is only effective for grouping related documents when these documents share a large proportion of lexically equivalent terms. In other words, instances of synonymy between related documents are ignored, which can reduce the effectiveness of applications using a standard full-text document representation. To address this problem, we present a new approach for clustering scientific documents, based on the utilization of citation contexts. A citation context is essentially the text surrounding the reference markers used to refer to other scientific works. We hypothesize that citation contexts will provide relevant synonymous and related vocabulary which will help increase the effectiveness of the bag-of-words representation. In this paper, we investigate the power of these citation-specific word features, and compare them with the original document’s textual representation in a document clustering task on two collections of labeled scientific journal papers from two distinct domains: High Energy Physics and Genomics. We also compare these text-based clustering techniques with a link-based clustering algorithm which determines the similarity between documents based on the number of co-citations, that is in-links represented by citing documents and out-links represented by cited documents. Our experimental results indicate that the use of citation contexts, when combined with the vocabulary in the full-text of the document, is a promising alternative means of capturing critical topics covered by journal articles. More specifically, this document representation strategy when used by the clustering algorithm investigated in this paper, outperforms both the full-text clustering approach and the link-based clustering technique on both scientific journal datasets.


Citation contexts Document clustering Text categorization