, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 415–428 | Cite as

Patents cited in the scientific literature: An exploratory study of 'reverse' citation relations



This paper reports on a new approach to study the linkage between science and technology. Unlike most contributions to this area we do not trace citations of scientific literature in patents but explore citations of patents in scientific literature. Our analysis is based on papers recorded in the 1996-2000 annual volumes of the CD-Edition of Science Citation Index (SCI) of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and patent data provided by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Almost 30,000 US patents were cited by scientific research papers. We analysed the citation links by scientific fields and technological sectors. Chemistry-related subfields tended to cite patents more than other scientific area. Among technological sectors, chemical clearly dominates followed by drugs and medical patents as the most frequently cited categories. Further analyses included a country-ranking based on inventor-addresses of the cited patents, a more detailed inspection of the ten most cited patents, and an analysis of class-field transfers. The paper concludes with the suggestions for future research. One of them is to compare our 'reverse' citation data with 'regular' patent citation data within the same classification system to see whether citations occur, irrespectively of their directionality, in the same fields of science and technology. Another question is as to how one should interpret reverse citation linkages.


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© Kluwer Academic Publisher/Akadémiai Kiadó 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Steunpunt O&O Statistieken, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Steunpunt O&O Statistieken, Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuven (Belgium

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