Understanding the Power of Citation Data

Because it takes a lot to become a Nobel Prize winner, we want to celebrate all of Alfred G. Gilman’s work leading up to his 1994 shared Nobel in Physiology or Medicine. Numerous studies in the past three decades have shown a strong correlation between citations in the literature and peer esteem, often reflected in professional awards, such as the Nobel Prize. Citations have been likened to repayments of intellectual debts, so persons who have accumulated such credits from their peers are often those whom these peers nominate for prizes and other honors. Eugene Garfield, founder of the Science Citation Index database more than half a century ago—what is now known as the Web of ScienceTM – studied the correlation between high citation frequency and the receipt of prestigious prizes, especially the Nobel. Let’s take a look to see how A.G. Gilman’s papers have performed prior to his Nobel Prize.

scopus comparison

With the award received in 1994, we can quickly gather from the Web of Science (Image 1) that a majority of citations to Gilman’s work were recorded in publications prior to 1994. Although his work is still highly cited thereafter, we see a slight drop in citations after the Nobel Prize. This is in sharp contrast to the information from Scopus (Image 2), showing the bulk of papers citing Gilman’s work to be after his Nobel Prize. As we can see, the results of the analysis are directly impacted by the quality and consistency of the source data.

The concept behind citation indexing is fundamentally simple. By recognizing that the value of information is determined by those who use it, what better way to measure the quality of the work than by measuring the impact it makes on the community at large.

As a true citation index, Web of Science indexes all cited references from every item in every journal covered, whether or not the cited work is also covered as a source publication. And with over 1 billion cited references in Web of Science, see how you can trace the progression of an idea and its impact over the years.