Volume 69, Issue 4 p. 600-609
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The Closer the Better: Similarity of Publication Pairs at Different Cocitation Levels

Giovanni Colavizza

Corresponding Author

Giovanni Colavizza

Digital Humanities Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (CH)

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Kevin W. BoyackNees Jan van Eck

Nees Jan van Eck

Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University (NL)

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Ludo Waltman

Ludo Waltman

Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University (NL)

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First published: 20 November 2017
Citations: 20

Abstract

We investigated the similarities of pairs of articles that are cocited at the different cocitation levels of the journal, article, section, paragraph, sentence, and bracket. Our results indicate that textual similarity, intellectual overlap (shared references), author overlap (shared authors), proximity in publication time all rise monotonically as the cocitation level gets lower (from journal to bracket). While the main gain in similarity happens when moving from journal to article cocitation, all level changes entail an increase in similarity, especially section to paragraph and paragraph to sentence/bracket levels. We compared the results from four journals over the years 2010–2015: Cell, the European Journal of Operational Research, Physics Letters B, and Research Policy, with consistent general outcomes and some interesting differences. Our findings motivate the use of granular cocitation information as defined by meaningful units of text, with implications for, among others, the elaboration of maps of science and the retrieval of scholarly literature.