, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 91–102

Evaluating reliability of co-citation clustering analysis in representing the research history of subject


DOI: 10.1007/s11192-008-2056-1

Cite this article as:
Zhao, Y., Cui, L. & Yang, H. Scientometrics (2009) 80: 91. doi:10.1007/s11192-008-2056-1



This paper aimed to examine the reliability of co-citation clustering analysis in representing the research history of subject by comparing the results from co-citation clustering analysis with a review written by authorities.


Firstly, the treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury was chosen as an investigated subject to be retrieved the resource articles and their references were downloaded from Science Citation Index CD-ROM between 1992 and 2002. Then, the highly cited papers were arranged chronologically and clustered with the method of co-citation clustering. After mapping the time line visualization, the history and structure of treatment of spinal cord injury were presented clearly. At last, the results and the review were compared according the time period, and then the recall and the precision were calculated.


The recall was 37.5%, and the precision was 54.5%. The research history of traumatic spinal cord injury treatment analyzed by co-citation clustering was nearly consistent with authoritative review, although some clusters had shorter period than which was summarized by professionals.


This paper concluded that co-citation clustering analysis was a useful method in representing the research history of subject, especially for the information researchers, who do not have enough professional knowledge. Its demerit of low recall could be offset by combination this method with other analytic techniques.

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Library of Shengjing Hospital of China Medical UniversityShenyangP.R. China
  2. 2.Department of Information Management and Information System (Medicine)China Medical UniversityShenyangP.R. China

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