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PLoS Biol. 2016 Sep 6;14(9):e1002541. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002541. eCollection 2016 Sep.

Relative Citation Ratio (RCR): A New Metric That Uses Citation Rates to Measure Influence at the Article Level.

Author information

1
Office of Portfolio Analysis, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
2
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.

Abstract

Despite their recognized limitations, bibliometric assessments of scientific productivity have been widely adopted. We describe here an improved method to quantify the influence of a research article by making novel use of its co-citation network to field-normalize the number of citations it has received. Article citation rates are divided by an expected citation rate that is derived from performance of articles in the same field and benchmarked to a peer comparison group. The resulting Relative Citation Ratio is article level and field independent and provides an alternative to the invalid practice of using journal impact factors to identify influential papers. To illustrate one application of our method, we analyzed 88,835 articles published between 2003 and 2010 and found that the National Institutes of Health awardees who authored those papers occupy relatively stable positions of influence across all disciplines. We demonstrate that the values generated by this method strongly correlate with the opinions of subject matter experts in biomedical research and suggest that the same approach should be generally applicable to articles published in all areas of science. A beta version of iCite, our web tool for calculating Relative Citation Ratios of articles listed in PubMed, is available at https://icite.od.nih.gov.

PMID:
27599104
PMCID:
PMC5012559
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1002541
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Since the authors work in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives at the National Institutes of Health, our work could have policy implications for how research portfolios are evaluated.

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