Trajectories and regimes in research versus knowledge evaluations: Contributions to an evolutionary theory of citation


  • Loet Leydesdorff University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School of Communication Research
  • Lin Zhang Wuhan University
  • Paul Wouters Leiden University, Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)


Palabras clave:

Interdisciplinarity, Synergy, Theory of citation, Bibliographic coupling, Co-citation, Research evaluation, Knowledge evaluation, Evolutionary theory of citation, Scholarly communication, Scientific journals, Indicators, Journal Citation Reports, JCR


Citation analysis can provide us with models of the evolutionary dynamics in scholarly and scientific communication. We propose to distinguish between institutional research evaluation (usually, ex post) and knowledge evaluation ex ante, in relation to directionality in citation analysis. We discuss the theoretical literature on communication systems which distinguishes between information and meaning, in which the concept of redundancy plays an important role as measure of the potential of a communication system. This is the basis for a model of knowledge dynamics which differentiates between observable variation and latent selection environments. We use indicators at the journal level and analyze the citation environments of journals in both the cited and citing directions. Among journals, the citing direction can be analyzed by co-citation and indicates the integration of knowledge from different fields. The cited direction can analogously be analyzed by bibliographic coupling and represents the extent to which the cited journal has become relevant for different disciplines, hence indicates knowledge diffusion. We apply this analysis on three different case studies of journal-journal relations: a small scale study of the journal Public Understanding of Science, a random sample of 100 journals, and a large-scale analysis of the set of JCR 2016 journals. Combined, the results seem to confirm the hypothesis that interdisciplinarity cannot be captured by one-dimensional citation analysis. Both citing and cited directions are relevant for knowledge and research evaluations, respectively. We raise the question whether indicators of interdisciplinarity can be developed by combining both directions in citation analysis, indicate further research, and discuss the normative implications of our preliminary results.


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Cómo citar

Leydesdorff, L., Zhang, L., & Wouters, P. (2022). Trajectories and regimes in research versus knowledge evaluations: Contributions to an evolutionary theory of citation. Profesional De La información, 32(1).



Artí­culos de investigación / Research articles