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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2011
DOI: 10.5062/F4RF5RZZ

[Refereed]

Local Citation Analysis of Graduate Biology Theses: Collection Development Implications

Laura Newton Miller
Science & Engineering Librarian
Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario
laura_newtonmiller@carleton.ca

Copyright 2011, Laura Newton Miller. Used with permission.

Abstract

This paper will focus on the citation analysis of graduate masters theses from Carleton University's Biology Department with implications for library collection management decisions. Twenty-five masters theses were studied to determine citation types and percentages, ranking of journals by frequency of citation and by number of authors citing, and by age range of journal citations. The researcher examined what percentages of journals were accessible through the local catalogue and conducted further analysis of specifics regarding unavailability. Journals were also ranked by subject specialty. Results indicate that although the library has many of the journal articles cited, knowing why a citation was unavailable is useful for establishing future purchasing needs. Although journal rankings are traditionally performed using total number of citations, the ranking by number of authors citing a source can make a difference when compiling core journal lists. The researcher concludes by discussing implications for collection development in times of fiscal constraint.

Introduction

MacOdrum Library is a central supporting body of Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), a research-intensive institution that serves the academic needs of approximately 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students (Carleton University Library 2008). As Science and Engineering Librarian at Carleton University, the researcher wanted to make sure the Library was meeting the needs of the biology graduate students. Carleton's Biology Department offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs. In 2007/2008 the department had 109 graduate students enrolled in programs (77 in Masters and 32 in PhD) (Office of Institutional Research and Planning, Carleton University 2009). Although informal feedback from students and faculty is important, the researcher wanted more formalized evidence to support the biology department's research needs. A survey was conducted in 2009 to assess the kinds of resources graduate students were using to find information for their research projects. This survey combined questions that focused on graduate students' perceptions of their library research needs and skills with questions that centered on the students' library research abilities (Newton Miller 2009). A mixed-methods approach can look at an issue from a variety of angles (Beck 2008) and give more detailed information for use in collection management (deVries, Kelley & Storm 2009) and instruction. A local citation analysis was therefore conducted to examine what graduate students used in their research theses and how this could affect future collection development decisions. This paper will focus on the citation analysis of graduate masters theses from Carleton University's Biology Department.

Literature Review

Citation analysis is "the systematic, quantitative study of works cited. It is part of the broader field of bibliometrics, the application of mathematical and statistical methods in the use of documents and publication pattern" (Osareh 1996, as cited in Black 2001). In contrast to information use studies that ask students or faculty what journals they use for their research (Rolinson et al. 1996 and Brown (2005)), citation analysis is an unobtrusive method for journal collection evaluation purposes (Sylvia 1998).

Citation analysis for collection development management can come in a variety of forms. Some study specific journals or a group of journals to determine a core collection for the library. In an early citation analysis, Gross and Gross (1927) researched the frequency of citations in the Journal of the American Chemical Society to ascertain what journals were needed most to help prepare students for advanced study and to support the "stimulation and intellectual development of the faculty" (Gross & Gross 1927). Budd (1988) analyzed the citations in three core education journals to determine how research is communicated within that discipline. Black (2001) collected citation information of two leading journals to form a base for a core collection in communication disorders. Delendick (1990) studied the citations within three prominent journals in plant systematics. He found that although some of the citations referenced in the three journals appeared in Science Citation Index, many more citations were represented in Biological Abstracts. This helped the researcher determine that Biological Abstracts was the better tool for those studying systematic botany at that time.

Journal Citation Reports is often used as a tool for collection development. Journal Citation Reports ranks journals by using citation frequency of journal articles to measure the journal's impact in a particular field (Thomson Reuters 2010a). This is a very useful tool for librarians to establish knowledge of core journals in a discipline, but it does not necessarily represent a local library's particular needs. Crotteau (1997) examined the library's support for biological research by comparing the citations within faculty publications to rankings in Journal Citation Reports. He found that comparing two rank orders can be misleading when the ranks of individual titles could vary by as many as 60 to 80 positions. He discovered that it may be more useful to state that a journal is more or less cited by local faculty than by the wider scientific community (Crotteau 1997). Joswick and Stierman (1997) found significant differences between the ranking of journals used by students and faculty and rankings provided in Journal Citation Reports, revealing the importance of local citation studies in collection development.

Some citation analyses focus on particular groups of users. Lascar and Mendelsohn (2001) and Crotteau (1997) examined the references within biology faculty papers. Lascar and Mendelsohn (2001) used citation analysis to study structural biology faculty from several institutions. Because structural biology is a multidisciplinary field, the authors discovered that it is important not to overemphasize the value of established, multidisciplinary journals. Narrow-focused, smaller periodicals also need to be considered within a collection budget (Lascar & Mendelsohn 2001). Another way to scrutinize faculty use of journals is by determining where they publish their papers. Stankus (2010) examined whether or not the placing of entomology faculty in different departments at various universities influenced where they published their work. Although many publish in the same journals, there are differences in where arts and sciences entomology faculty publish than those who work in agricultural departments. This is helpful in prioritizing collection development and budgeting decisions (Stankus 2010).

References used in honors undergraduate papers have been the focus of some citation analyses. These can be a great resource of information not only for libraries serving undergraduates, but also for those libraries trying to determine the needs of possible future graduate students. Leiding (2005) studied undergraduate papers from a number of academic departments, which helped in ascertaining the different needs between various disciplines. Kraus (2004) researched the citation patterns of advanced undergraduate biology students and in a later paper (Kraus 2005) compared the differences between citation usage of undergraduates and faculty in the biology department.

Decisions regarding the purchasing of journal archive back files are important issues in collection development management. In order to determine the need to purchase specific back files, Nabe and Imre (2008) examined citations to resources dating before or after 1996 (many archival purchases have content before this particular year). Knowing the age of citation references can be another important factor in collection management.

Graduate students are heavy users of library resources, and theses and dissertations are often readily available (Brazzeal & Fowler 2005). This makes them a well-known user group for citation analysis. Williams and Fletcher (2006) studied the materials used by graduate students in engineering to direct library collection development decisions. Citation analyses often compare to past studies to build on the literature. The current citation analysis on graduate biology masters theses has the benefit of citation analyses conducted by Kuruppu and Moore (2008) and by Walcott (1994). Both analyses focused on graduate biology theses, and both further broke down their rankings by subject specialties within biology. Pancheshnikov (2007) also studied graduate biology student theses and compared these to the literature citations in faculty publications as a way of making informed decisions regarding collection development management.

Methods

Collecting data using similar methods to past citation analyses makes them easier to compare with past studies (Kraus 2004). The researcher asked the following questions:

  1. What is the percentage of students' citations to journals? books? web sites? government documents? miscellaneous resources?
  2. What is the average number of citations per student paper?
  3. What are the top cited journals by number of citations?
  4. What are the top cited journals by number of citing authors?
  5. What is the age range of journal citations?
  6. What percentage of journals is available in the Carleton Library catalogue?
  7. What are the reasons for not having a particular journal?
  8. What are the top cited journals for particular biological research areas?

The researcher initially searched the Carleton University Library catalogue by conducting a keyword search for "biolog*", with a location "theses" and a year after 2006 and before 2010. The search was further narrowed by locating theses with the added author "Carleton University. Dissertation. Biology." Twenty-five Masters theses were found in total; 15 from 2008 and ten from 2007. When in doubt, the researcher went by the date of imprint on the thesis to determine the year (in other words, when the thesis was published, as opposed to when the student may have actually graduated). Theses from 2009 were not included in the study as many were not yet available electronically or were in the process of being bound at the time of analysis.

The researcher used Proquest's Dissertations and Theses at Carleton University (Proquest 2010) (a subset of Proquest's bigger Dissertations and Theses database) to print off the title page and reference section of each thesis. Each dissertation was given a unique identification number. Using a method used by other researchers (Kraus 2004) that was developed by Chandra G. Prabha (Prabha 1996 as cited in Kraus 2004), materials such as annuals, monographic series, and other irregular serials were not counted as journal articles. These were instead coded as B-annual and grouped as books.

Each citation was given one of the following codes:

    1. Journals or magazines - J
    2. Books or book chapters - B
    3. Annuals or monographic series - B-annual
    4. Web site (non-governmental)- W
    5. Miscellaneous- MIS
      1. MIS - Gov Doc (even if it is a web site or database)
      2. MIS - Report (includes technical papers, protocols)
      3. MIS - Conference
      4. MIS - Software
      5. MIS - Thesis
      6. MIS - Other (includes data repository, article submitted to journal but not in review process, product (i.e., Roundup), newspaper, pamphlet, software manual, survey, personal observation, user's guide)

To verify that a reference was a journal, the researcher checked citations in Ulrich's (Proquest Serials Editing Department 2009) and in Worldcat (OCLC 2010). If the title was not found in Ulrich's or Worldcat and the citation did not fall under another category, the researcher coded as MIS-other.

The researcher made the assumption that the materials the Library owned in 2010 (when the study was conducted) were also available to students while they were conducting research (i.e., 2006-2008). Although the researcher acknowledges that there is a chance database content may have changed in that time period, the task of determining dates of periodical acquirement was not feasible given the time to conduct the study. Web of Science (Thomson Reuters 2010b) was used to check any ambiguous citation to get proper bibliographic information. (i.e. when citation had incorrect date or journal name).

Ages of journal citations were determined by calculating the difference between the imprint year of the thesis and the age of a particular cited publication. For example, if a thesis was published in 2008 and a journal citation was from 1998, then the difference between these two numbers would make the citation 10 years old.

To determine whether or not Carleton University Library owned or had access to a cited journal article, the researcher checked the library's catalogue. Students checking the catalogue for a journal title may find that the library has the title, but not the particular year the student needs. In order to ascertain the specifics for not having access to a particular journal article, the citations were coded as follows:

  1. Don't have - Not found in catalogue at all. Never had subscription.
  2. Used to Have - Had at one time but cancelled subscription. (Having a significant number of these could give reason to revisit a subscription).
  3. Have now - Didn't have older copy but have current subscription. (This may give reason to purchase a back file).
  4. Don't have that year - This sometimes occurs when the library has an older subscription that was cancelled and then repurchased. This also occurs when there is an embargo on a journal. (The library may want to seek out copies that are missing in the years between subscriptions).

Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Corporation 2003) and IBM SPSS Statistics 18 (SPSS Inc. 2009) were used to tabulate results. The researcher calculated the frequency with which each journal was cited. Williams and Fletcher (2006) point out that multiple citations of a title by a single author can greatly affect the ranking of a journal. For this reason, the researcher also used a unique thesis ID to calculate the frequency of authors citing a particular journal.

To analyze theses by biological research area (as determined by the Carleton University Biology Department) (Carleton Biology Department 2009), the researcher examined Library of Congress Subject Headings from individual thesis catalogue records, and cross-referenced with subject headings used in Proquest's Digital Dissertations (Proquest 2010). All 25 theses were sorted into the following categories for further analysis.

  1. Cell & Molecular Biology
  2. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
  3. Biochemistry and Physiology
  4. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

Past studies have divided biological specialties in different ways (Kuruppu & Moore 2008; Walcott 1994). Because this is a local citation analysis, it was important for the researcher to divide specialties into groups similar to how Carleton University's Biology Department references these research areas to ensure the information needs can be met as specifically as possible.

Results and Discussion

Citation Types and Percentages

There were a total of 2,783 citations in the 25 Masters theses analyzed for this study. The average (mean) number of citations per thesis was 111 citations. The median was very close to the mean at 114 citations. The highest number of citations in a thesis was 191, and the lowest number was 44. Journals accounted for 2,340 citations, or 84% of the total. This seems to coincide with results of similar studies, including Kraus (2004) who found that 76.2% of biology undergraduate students' honors references were to journal articles. McCain and Bobick (1981) found that 91% of citations were to journals in faculty publications and doctoral dissertations and Walcott (1994) discovered that graduate biology students cited journals in the 80-95% range, depending on the subject specialty. Kuruppu and Moore (2008) determined doctoral students in agriculture and biology cited journal articles 80.5% of the time.

Books (including annuals) accounted for 11% of total citations. Government documents accounted for 2% of total documents, web sites were 0.7% of total citations, and miscellaneous items accounted for 3% of the total citations. (See Table 1 and Table 2)

Table 1: Masters- Total #s

Citation Type Amount Percentage of Total Citations

Journals

2,340

84%

Books (includes annuals)

327

11%

Government Documents

48

2%

Web sites

19

0.7%

Miscellaneous

80

3%

Table 2: Listing of Miscellaneous Citations

Types of Miscellaneous Citations Amount Percentage of Total Citations

Theses

15

0.5%

Reports

21

0.7%

Conference Proceedings

24

0.8%

Software

5

0.2%

Other

11

0.5%

"For many researchers, especially in the sciences, Google is the first choice for information -- all kinds of information" (Haglund & Olsson 2008). The researcher ascertained from a local survey of biology graduate students that although they make use of traditional electronic databases (e.g., Proquest's Biological Sciences), Google Scholar and Google are used to a greater extent for theses research (Newton Miller 2009). The low number of web site citations may be the result of graduate advisors discouraging their students from citing web sites. Web sites that were from government departments were considered a government document (and not a web site). This may have changed the numbers slightly. Kraus (2004) also found a low number of web sites cited by undergraduate biology students. Kraus found that although many science faculty and students were using electronic resources to access scholarly materials, they were not citing the use of web sites as sources, or the Internet as a means of delivery of scholarly information (Kraus 2004).

Title Dispersion and 80/20 Rule

Title dispersion is determined as "the degree to which the useful literature in a field is scattered through a number of books and journals" (Walcott 1994). The journal title dispersion for this study is 546, which means that 546 individual journal titles were needed to cover 100% of the journal citations. Walcott (1994) discovered a rather low number of 295 titles for her study of graduate biology student theses citations, although with the proliferation of journal titles since that time, the difference in numbers is perhaps not that surprising.

Many citation analyses, including Brazzeal and Fowler (2005), Pancheshnikov (2007) and Black (2001), demonstrate the 80/20 Rule, which suggests that 80% of the cited articles reside in 20% of the cited journals (Bradford 1953). In this study, the top 46 titles (8.4%) (by frequency of citation) cover 50.4% of all journal citations. Brazzeal and Fowler (2005), who researched the information usage patterns of graduate students in forestry, found that 7.0% of all cited journals accounted for 50% of all journal citations. In her study of graduate biology students, Walcott (1994) found that the top 22 titles covered 50% of all citations. The current research reveals a total of 77 journals (14%) accounted for 80% of all citations, which is very comparable to the findings of Brazzeal and Fowler (2005) who found that 70 journals accounted for 80% of the citations.

The researcher found a total of 77 titles out of the 546 individual journals (14%) were cited only once. In her study of graduate students and faculty use of biological sources, Pancheshnikov (2007) found that 50% of journal titles in faculty publications and 45% from student theses were cited only once.

Ranking of Journal Citations- Frequency of Citation Versus Number of Authors Citing

When conducting a citation analysis, a well accepted method for determining core journal lists is to rank journals by frequency of citations (Kuruppu & Moore 2008; Kraus 2005; LaBonte 2005; Walcott 1994). However, Williams and Fletcher (2006) assert in their study of engineering graduate students' citations that multiple citations of a title by a single author can affect the rankings of journal. This study examined the rankings of journals by frequency and by number of authors citing and found variations in the order of rank. Table 3 includes the top 46 titles by frequency of citation (8.4%) that covers 50.4% of all journal citations in this study. The table also shows the percentage of total authors who cite a particular journal in the list. Table 4 includes a rank order of journal titles by number of authors citing.

Table 3: Top Cited Journals Ranked by Total Number of Citations (some ties)

Rank Journal Title Number of Citations # Citing Authors (25 max) % of Total Authors

1

Journal of Biological Chemistry

97

12

48%

2

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

74

19

76%

3

Biochemistry

52

9

36%

4

Plant Physiology

51

6

24%

5

Journal of Experimental Biology

49

10

40%

6

Plant Cell

44

4

16%

7

Science

42

14

56%

8

Plant Journal

41

3

12%

9

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

36

3

12%

10

Nature

35

17

68%

11

Ecology

34

7

28%

12

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

32

9

36%

13

Journal of Comparative Physiology B

30

7

28%

14

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

26

3

12%

15

Oecologia

25

6

24%

16-19

American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, integrative & comparative physiology

23

5

20%

16-19

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta

23

12

48%

16-19

Canadian Journal of Zoology

23

10

40%

16-19

Trends in Ecology and Evolution

23

7

28%

20-21

Cell

22

6

24%

20-21

Genes and Development

22

8

32%

22

Animal Behaviour

21

5

20%

23

Molecular and Cellular Biology

20

8

32%

24-25

EMBO Journal

19

11

44%

24-25

Plant Molecular Biology

19

4

16%

26

Journal of Fish Biology

18

3

12%

27-28

Journal of Chemical Ecology

17

3

12%

27-28

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

17

3

12%

29-32

Biochemical Journal

16

8

32%

29-32

Genetics

16

2

8%

29-32

Journal of Ecology

16

3

12%

29-32

Physiological Zoology

16

4

16%

33-34

Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology

15

6

24%

33-34

Nucleic Acids Research

15

7

28%

35-36

Ecology Letters

14

2

8%

35-36

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

14

2

8%

37-40

American Naturalist

13

5

20%

37-40

Journal of Experimental Zoology

13

5

20%

37-40

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences

13

6

24%

37-40

Trends in Plant Science

13

5

20%

41-44

American Journal of Botany

12

2

8%

41-44

Analytical Biochemistry

12

4

16%

41-44

Biological Invasions

12

2

8%

41-44

Planta

12

5

20%

45-46

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B

11

5

20%

45-46

Phytochemistry

11

5

20%

Table 4: Journals Ranked by Number of Authors Citing (total # authors= 25)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citing Authors

Percentage of Total Authors

1

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

19

76%

2

Nature

17

68%

3

Science

14

56%

4-5

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta

12

48%

4-5

Journal of Biological Chemistry

12

48%

6

EMBO Journal

11

44%

7-8

Canadian Journal of Zoology

10

40%

7-8

Journal of Experimental Biology

10

40%

9-10

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

9

36%

9-10

Biochemistry

9

36%

11-13

Biochemical Journal

8

32%

11-13

Genes and Development

8

32%

11-13

Molecular and Cellular Biology

8

32%

14-17

Ecology

7

28%

14-17

Journal of Comparative Physiology B

7

28%

14-17

Nucleic Acids Research

7

28%

14-17

Trends in Ecology and Evolution

7

28%

In this study, a total of 333 (61%) of the 546 journals are cited by only one author, although they may be cited more than once by that author. (See Table 5).

Table 5: Number of Citing Authors Compared to Number of Cited Journals

# Citing Authors

# Journals

Percentage of Total Journals

1

333

61%

2

92

17%

3

49

9%

4

20

4%

5 or more

47

9%

Age Range of Journal Citations

Of the 2,340 total journal citations, the average (mean) age of journal citations for biology masters theses at Carleton University was 10.6 years. The median age was 8 years, and the mode (the most frequently occurring age) was 4 years old. This is very similar to the results of Kraus' study of undergraduate biology majors (Kraus 2004) where the average age was 10.65 years. Kuruppu and Moore (2008) stated results in a different way: 90% of the citations (all formats) were less than 24 years old, and the oldest citation was 173 years old. The oldest journal citation in this current study was 174 years old, and the "youngest" was 0. (i.e. citation was from the year the student published his/her thesis).

Percentage of Journals Accessible by Carleton Library Catalogue

Crotteau (1997) examined the citation patterns of faculty in the Department of Biology at University of North Carolina. He found that 65% of total journal citations had complete library holdings, 23% had partial holdings, and 12% had no holdings. Williams and Fletcher (2006) found local library holdings for 82% of journals cited in engineering theses. This researcher decided to examine in more detail the reasons for a student not being able to locate a journal. In other words, instead of stating the library had "partial" holdings, the researcher studied just what a "partial" holding meant. When a journal article cited was not shown to be in the Carleton University Library catalogue, it was marked CU-N. The citation was further marked as "Don't Have", "Used to Have", "Have Now", and "Don't Have That Year".

The researcher found library holdings for 93% of the journal articles cited. Of the 2,340 total journal citations, there were 170 incidents (7% of total) where Carleton did not have the journal paper required. Of this 7% of incidents that Carleton University Library did not have in its catalogue, the researcher found the following:

Table 6: CU-N- Reasons

Reason Number of Citations Percentage of Total
CU-N (n=170)
Percentage of Total
Citations (n=2,340)

Don't Have

114

67%

4.8%

Used to Have

25

15%

1.1%

Have Now

22

13%

0.94%

Don't Have that Year

9

5%

0.38%

Total

170

100%

7%

The following table shows the frequency of the top five journal citations that were not found in the Library catalogue:

Table 7: Top Journal Citations Not Available in Library Catalogue

Rank

Journal Title

Frequency of CU-N
(out of 2340 total cit)

Reason for
CU-N

# Citing Authors
(25 max)

1

Oncogene

8

Don't have

2

2

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

7

Have now

3

3

Biochemical Journal

5

Used to have

4

4

Biochemical Society Transactions

4

Used to have

4

4

Cell Death and Differentiation

4

Don't have

3

Top Ranking Journals by Research Area

Carleton University's Biology Department divides their research into four main areas: Cell and Molecular Biology; Ecology, Evolution and Behavior; Biochemistry and Physiology; and Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (Carleton Biology Department 2009). The following table breaks down the 25 graduate theses by research area:

Table 8: Graduate Research Areas (Biological Sciences) at Carleton University

Research Area

#Masters

Cell & Molecular Biology

8

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior

9

Biochemistry and Physiology

8

Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

0

TOTAL #

25

Because biotechnology and bioinformatics were not represented in theses for masters students in the time period studied, the researcher will focus on the three remaining research areas. (Biotechnology and bioinformatics was being studied by PhD students during that time period). Because of the interdisciplinary nature of some of the theses papers, some dissertations could fall into more than one category which could skew the journal frequency results. (For example, theses that focused on the molecular biology of plants cited plant-specific journals, which may not necessarily always be labeled top-ranking in Cell and Molecular Biology). Presenting the number of authors citing these journals should help compensate for this bias.

Cell and Molecular Biology

Table 9: Top Ranking Journals in Cell and Molecular Biology Theses

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citations

#Citing Authors (8 max)

% of Total Authors

1

Journal of Biological Chemistry

42

7

88%

2

Plant Physiology

31

3

38%

3

Plant Journal

29

2

25%

4

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

26

7

88%

5

Plant Cell

24

2

25%

6

Biochemistry

18

4

50%

7

Plant Molecular Biology

17

2

25%

8

Cell

16

4

50%

9

Genetics

15

3

38%

10

Science

14

4

50%

Table 10: Journals Ranked by Number of Authors Citing: Cell and Molecular Biology (8 authors total) (some ties)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citing Authors

Percentage of Total Authors

1-2

Journal of Biological Chemistry

7

88%

1-2

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

7

88%

3-4

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta

6

75%

3-4

EMBO Journal

6

75%

5-9

Biochemical Journal

5

63%

5-9

Genes and Development

5

63%

5-9

Molecular and Cellular Biology

5

63%

5-9

Nature

5

63%

5-9

Nucleic Acids Research

5

63%

10-14

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

4

50%

10-14

Biochemistry

4

50%

10-14

Cell

4

50%

10-14

Science

4

50%

10-14

Trends in Cell Biology

4

50%

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior

Table 11: Top Ranking Journals in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Theses (some ties)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citations

#Citing Authors (9 max)

% of Total Authors

1

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

35

2

22%

2

Ecology

34

7

78%

3

Oecologia

24

5

56%

4

Animal Behaviour

19

3

33%

5-6

Journal of Experimental Biology

18

3

33%

5-6

Trends in Ecology and Evolution

18

6

67%

7

Journal of Chemical Ecology

17

3

33%

8-10

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

16

2

22%

8-10

Journal of Ecology

16

2

22%

8-10

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

16

5

56%

11-12

Ecology Letters

14

2

22%

11-12

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

14

2

22%

Table 12: Journals Ranked by Number of Authors Citing: Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (9 authors total) (some ties)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citing Authors (9 max)

Percentage of Total Authors

1

Ecology

7

78%

2-3

Trends in Ecology and Evolution

6

67%

2-3

Nature

6

67%

4-7

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

5

56%

4-7

Oikos

5

56%

4-7

Oecologia

5

56%

4-7

Canadian Journal of Zoology

5

56%

8-12

Science

4

44%

8-12

Naturwissenschaften

4

44%

8-12

Journal of Applied Ecology

4

44%

8-12

Ecological Applications

4

44%

8-12

Bioscience

4

44%

Biochemistry and Physiology

Table 13: Top Ranking Journals in Biochemistry and Physiology Theses (some ties)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citations

#Citing Authors (8 max)

% of Total Authors

1

Journal of Biological Chemistry

38

4

50%

2

Biochemistry

33

4

50%

3

Journal of Experimental Biology

26

4

50%

4

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

24

4

50%

5

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

23

6

75%

6

Plant Cell

20

2

25%

7

Science

18

5

63%

8

Plant Physiology

15

1

13%

9

Journal of Comparative Physiology B

13

3

38%

10-11

Physiological Zoology

12

3

38%

10-11

Plant Journal

12

1

13%

Table 14: Journals Ranked by Number of Authors Citing: Biochemistry and Physiology (8 authors total) (some ties)

Rank

Journal Title

Number of Citing Authors (8 max)

Percentage of Total Authors

1

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

6

75%

2-3

Nature

5

63%

2-3

Science

5

63%

4-11

Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

4

50%

4-11

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications

4

50%

4-11

Biochemical Society Transactions

4

50%

4-11

Biochemistry

4

50%

4-11

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta

4

50%

4-11

EMBO Journal

4

50%

4-11

Journal of Biological Chemistry

4

50%

4-11

Journal of Experimental Biology

4

50%

Conclusion

Carleton University Library is doing well in terms of periodical library holdings. Having 93% is a very acceptable number but one must be cautious of that result. Citation analysis only measures what students used in their formal research. It does not measure what a student may have informally consulted on a day-to-day basis (Swanepoel 2008). Citation analysis is unable to show what a student decided not to use because of its unavailability in the library. Because Carleton University is located in the national capital, further research should be undertaken to examine how many journal citations unavailable in Carleton's library were obtainable at nearby University of Ottawa. Since graduate students frequently use Google and Google Scholar, and as the open access movement continues to grow, further research is needed to determine how many journal citations were available through open access or from an open archive.

Although citation analysis is a useful tool for determining collection development needs, it is not without its challenges. It became quite clear that a few students need more help creating their reference lists. Verifying whether or not a citation was in the catalogue became more time-consuming than expected because of incorrect dates and incorrect or incomplete journal titles. For example, a title with parts A, B and C can be in three different journals. Leaving some of the title information out of the citation necessitates more investigation by the researcher to get the correct reference. However, students were not always the ones at fault. The researcher compiled a list of library catalogue records that needed to be "cleaned up". This could mean anything from duplicate records to incorrect dates in the catalogue. Although these various delays were for a small percentage of citations, it is important to take note of the potential time consumed for those interested in pursuing similar projects. Citation analysis has the benefit of finding trends that can help determine what databases and other library tools need to be promoted in the library. Because of the challenges found in incomplete journal references, the researcher plans to work more with biology students and faculty regarding proper citation formatting and will further promote bibliographic management programs such as RefWorks.

How do the results of this study affect future collection development? Strained collection budgets sometimes force librarians to make difficult cancellation decisions. The researcher now has core journal lists within specific biological fields by frequency of citation and by number of times an author cites a resource. Using these lists in conjunction with lists produced by Journal Citation Reports can help a librarian determine what should stay in the collection while maintaining equality throughout the various subfields.

Finding out why a student is not able to locate a journal in the catalogue is more beneficial than only knowing that the library has full, partial, or no holdings. The researcher discovered it very valuable to organize journal citations that were not in the catalogue into categories of Don't Have, Used to Have, Have Now and Don't Have That Year. It is frustrating for a patron to not find a journal title needed for his/her research. It is even more infuriating when the journal title is in the catalogue, but not the particular year the patron needs. Why does the library not have a specific year? Do we need to consider a back file purchase? Should we revisit a cancelled subscription? The researcher now has a list of the top journal titles that were not available in the library catalogue, the number of times students were not able to access, reasons why they were not able to access, and the number of students trying to access those titles. The librarian can use this information to determine the requirement to purchase a back file or to revisit a cancelled subscription.

Knowing the age of citations is valuable when examining space requirements for the library. Like many other institutions, space is at a premium at Carleton University Library and there is pressure to weed or move things to a storage facility located on campus. Libraries can purchase electronic back files of journal collections and move the older hardcopy equivalents into storage (or weed entirely) to free up much needed space in the library. Nabe and Imre (2008) studied plant biology and zoology dissertations and found that many journal citations were older than 12 years. The current research found similar averages of 10.6 years. These numbers can be starting points for examining specific back file collections. Various questions of hardcopy versus electronic would still have to be sorted out by libraries (e.g. sometimes the print version is the more complete copy and should remain in the library). Similar citation studies of undergraduate, doctoral and faculty papers would help to give a fuller picture of what is needed in order to move hardcopy journals to another location and replace with electronic back files.

This particular study only focused on journal citations, but it would be very useful to further examine book citations used by students and faculty to ensure the library is meeting their monographic needs. Eleven percent of theses citations were to books (including annuals). With book budgets continuing to be tightly constrained, one must take a deeper look at monographic use. Science students and faculty traditionally use more journals than books, but the monographs that are purchased are usually much more expensive than those purchased for humanities and social science disciplines. E-book packages are becoming a more popular (but expensive) option for libraries and many are geared toward the sciences. Are patrons using books that come in e-book format? Citation analysis and data abstracted from e-book collections are useful tools to examine the book needs of students and faculty. Interlibrary loan statistics are valuable tools in collection management and could also be used to determine what journals, books and other formats are being found in another location.

The researcher agrees with the findings of Williams and Fletcher (2006) that although journal rankings are traditionally performed using total number of citations, the ranking by number of authors citing a source can make a difference when compiling core journal lists. As Feyereisen and Spoiden (2009) point out, libraries may need to visit alternatives such as interlibrary loans and pay-per-view options for infrequently used titles. Research on number of authors citing a source gives a librarian pause to think about what to do in future situations when a professor or student requests a particular journal. Are very few people going to use a resource many times? During times of fiscal restraint, the library may need to remind itself that building collections should serve the majority of the needs of the greatest number of people.

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