What comes first the co-authorship network or the citation?

Adam BUTLER, Guandong XU, Xuezhong HE

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


For many decades citation counting has been used as the way to quantify the nebulous notion of research "quality". Indeed, in conversation the terms "research quality", "impact" or "excellence in research" are simply a reference to a scientific document's citation count. Moreover, the commonly used journal "impact" factors are simply manipulated forms of citation counting. In recent times, the word "impact" has morphed into the new 'mot du jour'. This paper investigates and discusses the association between co-Authorship networks and citations of institutions within an arbitrary, but defined, subject area. The data examined is readily available and the analytical techniques employed are deliberately simple. The simplicity of this analysis is driven by the desire to show that citation counts are not explicitly related to the quality of research but that citations are a result of multifaceted author networks that are inherent in scientific endeavor. The paper presents an argument that the improved ability to conduct effective network analysis and related research shows that the notion of high citations being the same as "research quality" has run its course. Citation performance is more likely to be a result of co-Authorship network dynamics rather than any perceived notion of "quality". Moreover, it is time the folly of citation counting is put to rest and that if one wants know what "impact" one is having that you need look no further than your co-Authorship network and the reach it has across whatever subject area you are interested in. The discussion and results herein highlight that rather than counting citations, the "impact" of research is driven by connections through networks of people. Copyright © 2017 held by the owner/author(s). 

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th Multidisciplinary International Social Networks Conference
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450348812
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


Butler, A., Xu, G., & He, X. (2017). What comes first the co-authorship network or the citation? In Proceedings of the 4th Multidisciplinary International Social Networks Conference. Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3092090.3092133


  • Co-authorship networks
  • Citation analysis
  • Research quality
  • Research impact


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