Relationship between downloads and citations at journal and paper levels, and the influence of language

Abstract

Download indicators are of major potential interest because the great quantity of readily available download data means that any statistical inferences drawn from them will be of robust significance. We study the relationship between citation and downloads at the journal and paper levels, and the influence of language on that relationship. The data used were taken from the Scopus (citations) and ScienceDirect (downloads) databases. The results showed that downloads have limited utility as predictors of citation since it is in the early years when any correlations have the least significance. The relationship between downloads and citation also differs from one discipline to another. The relationship at the paper level is considerably weaker than at the journal level. This may be indicative of the number of downloads depending largely on the diffusion of the journal. In francophone regions, downloading from journals is proportionately less than citations to those same journals. There seems to be a part of citations to non-English-language journals which is invisible to Scopus. This makes the number of downloads proportionately greater than that of citations, leading to a lack of correlation between downloads and citations in that class of journal.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Elsevier as part of the Elsevier Bibliometric Research Program (EBRP), and financed by the Junta de Extremadura, Consejería de Empleo, Empresa e Innovación and by the Fondo Social Europeo as part of the research group Grant GR10019.

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Correspondence to Vicente P. Guerrero-Bote.

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Guerrero-Bote, V.P., Moya-Anegón, F. Relationship between downloads and citations at journal and paper levels, and the influence of language. Scientometrics 101, 1043–1065 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-014-1243-5

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Keywords

  • Scientometric indicators
  • Download indicator
  • Citation indicators
  • Language influence
  • Scopus
  • ScienceDirect