Reward or persuasion? The battle to define the meaning of a citation
Abstract:The history and development of the Science Citation Index (SCI) is an example of the power of users in defining and influencing the development of a new technology. The SCI was developed as a tool for the historian of science for the purpose of tracing the history of ideas, but it was appropriated by users for purposes for which it was unintended – as a tool for evaluating the literature, individuals, institutions, and countries. The development of a citation tool gave rise to a debate over what is actually measured by citations. The citation-as-reward camp views citations as indicators of quality and impact, whereas the citation-as-persuasion camp views citations as no more than rhetorical devices. While neither view can fully explain how authors use citations, citation-as-reward prevails as the dominant interpretation.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2009
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