Can downloads predict impact for scientific articles?

Apr 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

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User comments : 1

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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!

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