Nine million book items and eleven million citations: a study of book-based scholarly communication using OpenCitations

  • Yongjun Zhu
  • Erjia Yan
  • Silvio Peroni
  • Chao CheEmail author


Books have been widely used to share information and contribute to human knowledge. However, the quantitative use of books as a method of scholarly communication is relatively unexamined compared to journal articles and conference papers. This study uses the COCI dataset (a comprehensive open citation dataset provided by OpenCitations) to explore books’ roles in scholarly communication. The COCI data we analyzed includes 445,826,118 citations from 46,534,705 bibliographic entities. By analyzing such a large amount of data, we provide a thorough, multifaceted understanding of books. Among the investigated factors are (1) temporal changes to book citations; (2) book citation distributions; (3) years to citation peak; (4) citation half-life; and (5) characteristics of the most-cited books. Results show that books have received less than 4% of total citations, and have been cited mainly by journal articles. Moreover, 97.96% of books have been cited fewer than ten times. Books take longer than other bibliographic materials to reach peak citation levels, yet are cited for the same duration as journal articles. Most-cited books tend to cover general (yet essential) topics, theories, and technological concepts in mathematics and statistics.


Book citation Scholarly communication Citation analysis OpenCitations COCI Open citation data 



This paper was supported by Sungkyun Research Fund (S-2018-2538-000), Sungkyunkwan University, 2018.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Library and Information ScienceSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.College of Computing and InformaticsDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Digital Humanities Advanced Research Centre (DHARC), Department of Classical Philology and Italian StudiesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Advanced Design and Intelligent Computing, Ministry of EducationDalian UniversityDalianChina

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