Are all citations worth the same? Valuing citations by the value of the citing items

Cristiano Giuffrida, Giovanni Abramo*, Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Bibliometricians have long recurred to citation counts to measure the impact of publications on the advancement of science. However, since the earliest days of the field, some scholars have questioned whether all citations should be worth the same, and have gone on to weight them by a variety of factors. However sophisticated the operationalization of the measures, the methodologies used in weighting citations still present limits in their underlying assumptions. This work takes an alternative approach to resolving the underlying problem: the proposal is to value citations by the impact of the citing articles, regardless of the length of their reference list. As well as conceptualizing a new indicator of impact, the work illustrates its application to the 2004-2012 Italian scientific production indexed in the WoS. The proposed impact indicator is highly correlated to the traditional citation count, however the shifts observed between the two measures are frequent and the number of outliers not negligible. Moreover, the new indicator shows greater "sensitivity" when used to identify the highly-cited papers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-514
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Informetrics
Issue number2
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Bibliometrics
  • Citing-cited
  • Impact
  • Research evaluation


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