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Methodological issues in measuring citations in Wikipedia: a case study in Library and Information Science


Wikipedia citations have been suggested as a metric that partially captures the impact of research, providing an indication of the transfer of scholarly output to a wider audience beyond the academic community. In this article, we explore the coverage of Library and Information Science literature published between 2001 and 2010 in Wikipedia, paying special attention to the methodological issues involved in counting Wikipedia citations. The results reveal severe limitations in the use of Wikipedia citations for research evaluation. Lack of standardization and incompleteness of Wikipedia references make it difficult to retrieve them. The number of Wikipedia citations is very low, with less than 3% of articles in the sample having been cited. A significant number of references are cited in biographical entries about the authors of the articles, resulting in a phenomenon of accumulated advantage, which is similar to the Matthew effect. Nearly one-third of the Wikipedia citations link to an open access source, although this result is probably an underestimate of open access availability, given the incompleteness of Wikipedia citations.

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Correspondence to Ángel Borrego.

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Pooladian, A., Borrego, Á. Methodological issues in measuring citations in Wikipedia: a case study in Library and Information Science. Scientometrics 113, 455–464 (2017).

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  • Altmetrics
  • Citation analysis
  • Library and Information Science
  • Wikipedia