Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Assessing obliteration by incorporation in a full-text database: JSTOR, Economics, and the concept of “bounded rationality”

  • 837 Accesses

  • 8 Citations

Abstract

To evaluate the usefulness of a full-text database as a source for assessing obliteration by incorporation (OBI), 3,707 article records including the catchphrases “bounded rationality” and/or “boundedly rational” (connected with the work of H. A. Simon) in the article text were retrieved from JSTOR, a full-text database with broad disciplinary coverage. Two subsets were analyzed—a 10 % systematic sample of all records and a set of all articles in Economics journals (with the addition of the Journal of Economic Theory). A majority of articles in the 10 % sample came from Economics and Management journals, while Psychology was poorly represented. In the 10 % sample, based on the percentage of true implicit citations between 1992 and 2009 in the 80 % of records that had a catchphrase in the body of the article, rather than just in the reference list, annual OBI ranged from 0 to 70 % (mean 33 %) with no discernible trend. The Economics articles showed a narrower range of OBI—fluctuating around 40 % implicit citations over the same time period. In both data sets, a large proportion of indirect citations were to sources that themselves cited a relevant work by Simon. Over 90 % of the articles in both the 10 % sample and the economics journal set would not have been retrieved with a database record search because they lacked the catchphrase in the record fields.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Notes

  1. 1.

    And some frequently cited works are apparently never formally published—working papers and (frequently encountered in this study) “mimeos.” This phenomenon, while of interest, is not pursued in the present study.

  2. 2.

    An early version of this paper, without the Economics data and related discussion, was presented at ISSI 2013 (see McCain 2013).

  3. 3.

    A systematic sample begins by determining the percent of items to be chosen, in this case 10 % or 370 of the 3,707. Beginning with a random position number between 1 and 10, every 10th record is chosen for analysis. The results are considered equivalent to a simple random sample for most purposes.

  4. 4.

    I thank Roger McCain for this explanation of McKelvey and Palfrey’s work.

  5. 5.

    In contrast, a catch phrase search in Web of Science produced 161 articles in psychology journals (1980–2012) with the phrase in a searchable database field; a similar search in PsycINFO yielded 447 database records (1978–2012), and a search of the PsyARTICLES database (full text of journals published by the American Psychological Association) produced 333 articles published between 1984 and 2013. A report on full-text OBI in journals published by the American Psychological Association (PsyARTICLES database) is in preparation.

References

  1. Barabási, A.-L., & Albert, R. (1999). Emergence of scaling in random networks. Science, 286, 509–512.

  2. Burrell, Q. L. (2012). Alternative thoughts on uncitedness. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 1466–1470.

  3. Costas, R., van Leeuwen, T. N., & van Raan, A. F. J. (2010). Is scientific literature subject to a “sell-by-date?” A general methodology to analyze the “durability” of scientific documents. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61, 329–339.

  4. de Solla Price, D. (1976). A general theory of bibliometric and other cumulative advantage processes. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 27, 292–306.

  5. Garfield, E. (1977). Introducing Citation Classics: The human side of scientific reports. Essays of an Information Scientist, 3, 1–2.

  6. Garfield, E. (1979). Citation indexing: Its theory and application in science, technology, and humanites. New York: Wiley.

  7. Harwood, N. (2008). Publication outlets and their effect on academic writers’ citations. Scientometrics, 77, 253–263.

  8. Harwood, N. (2009). An interview-based study of the functions of citations in academic writing across two disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 497–518.

  9. Heck, J. L., Zaleski, P. A., & Dressler, S. J. (2009). Leading institutional contributors to the elite economic journals. Applied Economics, 41, 2191–2196.

  10. MacRoberts, M. H., & MacRoberts, B. R. (1989). Problems of citation analysis: A critical review. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 40, 342–349.

  11. McCain, K. W. (2011). Eponymy and obliteration by incorporation: The case of the “Nash Equilibrium”. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62, 1412–1424.

  12. McCain, K. W. (2012). Assessing obliteration by incorporation: Issues and caveats. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 2129–2139.

  13. McCain, K. W. (2013). Assessing obliteration by incorporation in a full-text database: JSTOR and the concept of bounded rationality. In Proceedings of ISSI 2013 Vienna, 14th International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics, 15–20 July 2013, Vienna, Austria, (pp. 185–199).

  14. McCain, K. W. (2014). Obliteration by incorporation. In B. Cronin & C. Sugimoto (Eds.), Beyond bibliometrics: Metrics-based evaluation of research. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  15. Merton, R. K. (1965). On the shoulders of giants: A Shandean perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  16. Merton, R. K. (1968). The Matthew effect in science. Science, 159, 56–63.

  17. Merton, R. K. (1979). Forward. In E. Garfield (Ed.), Citation indexing: Its theory and application in science, technology, and humanities. New York: Wiley.

  18. Merton, R. K. (1988). The Matthew effect in science. 2. Cumulative advantage and the symbolism of intellectual property. Isis, 79, 606–623.

  19. Messeri, P. (1978). Obliteration by incorporation: Toward a problematics, theory and metric of the use of scientific literature. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, California, September 5.

  20. Rousseau, R. (1987). The Gozinto theorem: Using citations to determine influences on a scientific publication. Scientometrics, 11, 217–229.

  21. Simon, H. A. (1957). Models of man: Social and rational. New York: Wiley.

  22. Small, H. G. (1978). Cited documents as concept symbols. Social Studies of Science, 8, 327–340.

  23. Stigler, G. J., Stigler, S. M., & Friedland, C. (1995). The journals of economics. Journal of Political Economy, 103, 331–359.

  24. Thomas, K. S. (1992). The development of eponymy: A case study of the Southern blot. Scientometrics, 24, 405–417.

  25. Van Raan, A. F. J. (2004). Sleeping beauties in science. Scientometrics, 59, 467–472.

  26. Wang, P., & White, M. D. (1999). A cognitive model of document use during a research project. Study II. Decisions at the reading and citing stages. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50, 98–114.

  27. White, M. D., & Wang, P. (1997). A qualitative study of citing behavior: Contributions, criteria, and metalevel documentation concerns. Library Quarterly, 67, 122–154.

  28. Zuckerman, H. A. (1987). Citation analysis and the complex system of intellectual influence. Scientometrics, 12, 329–338.

Download references

Acknowledgments

Some results from this study were presented at Metrics 2012: Workshop on Informetric and Scientometric Research (SIG MET) at the 2012 ASIST Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD and at ISSI 2013 in Vienna, Austria. I thank the workshop and conference participants for helpful comments and suggestions. I thank Dr. Roger A. McCain, Professor, School of Economics, Drexel University for providing insights into the role of game theory and Simon’s notions of bounded rationality in Economics. I remain responsible for errors and omissions.

Author information

Correspondence to Katherine W. McCain.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

McCain, K.W. Assessing obliteration by incorporation in a full-text database: JSTOR, Economics, and the concept of “bounded rationality”. Scientometrics 101, 1445–1459 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-014-1237-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Obliteration by incorporation
  • Economics
  • Full-text databases
  • Citation-in-context analysis