Can downloads predict impact for scientific articles?

April 10, 2009

While the number of times a scientific article is cited by other articles is currently the gold standard for ranking its impact, online publishing offers another measure: the number of unique downloads.

A recent analysis in the online of Vision finds that downloads are a good predictor of citations — and they are available significantly faster.

The analysis was published in an editorial by Journal of Vision (JOV) Editor-in-Chief Andrew Watson. (journalofvision.org/9/4/i/) JOV recently began publishing download counts for every published article. The journal also ranks the top 20 articles by download.

How do unique downloads compare with the more traditional citations counts? Very well, it turns out. Watson reports an overall correlation of 0.74 between and citations for individual articles in JOV.

But who needs this new metric, if the old one worked well? Anyone in a hurry. Download counts mirror citations, but are available about two years earlier.

Source: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

Explore further: Automatic eyeglasses prescriptions? New formula connects optical quality with visual acuity

Related Stories

Free articles get read but don't generate more citations

July 31, 2008

When academic articles are "open access" or free online, they get read more often, but they don't -- going against conventional wisdom -- get cited more often in academic literature, finds a new Cornell study.

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

denijane
not rated yet Apr 14, 2009
Oh well, I download so many articles, I wouldn't use all of them in my work and thus cite them. But still, this could be a good indicator of the importance of the article. The next step is to add a possibility to comment it-just like a blog. Now that would be VERY cool!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.