Bibliographies & Bibliometrics

To read the transcript of this video, go to Transcripts.

In academia, referencing plays an important role in all aspects of research. Referencing involves showing where an author got their information or ideas.

A reference source is "any publication from which authoritative information can be obtained" (Reitz, 2014). Researchers are careful to cite the sources that they use. Reitz states that a citation is "a written reference to a specific work or portion of a work (book, article, dissertation, report, musical composition, etc.) produced by a particular author, editor, composer, etc., clearly identifying the document in which the work is to be found."

Scholars generally follow a citation style guide when creating a citation. Most disciplines use one of about a dozen styles. Purdue's OWL Online Writing Lab does a nice job reviewing the key formats. Examples include.

Read Rekdal, Ole Bjorn (October 2014). Academic citation practice: a sinking sheep? portal: libraries and the Academy, 14(4), 567-585.

Many people use electronic tools to generate citations.

Read Homol, Lindley (2014). Web-based citation management tools: comparing the accuracy of their electronic journal citations. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 40, 552-557.

Scenario Stumper
I'm writing an article for the American Educational Research Journal. Which citation style guide should I use?
Most journals provide writing style guidelines that are normally associated with the discipline. Let's look at a recent copy of the journal. In most cases, the guidelines will be printed at the back or front of the journal. Or, an email is provided to contact the editor with questions about submissions. In this case, there's submission guidelines that note that the APA style (6th edition, 2009) must be used.
The Bottom Line... it depends on the discipline and the specific periodical what citation style guides they require.

try itTry It!
Browse some research journals in your discipline. It's fine to use online databases. Examine the bibliographies at the end of the articles. Look for their publication guidelines at the front or back of the journal. Do they provide citation style guidelines with the article submission information? If not, search for the journal's website and see if the submission guidelines are detailed at the website. List three journals and the citation style required.

annetteLamb's Personal Connection
Pick a citation style you feel comfortable using and get to know it well. Personally, much of my career has been spent in the social sciences, so I tend to choose APA style.

However, you need to be ready to make a style switch depending the needs of your information seekers. If you're working with a faculty member in the humanities, they may want a bibliography written in MLA style. However, a scientist may prefer ACS style. You need to feel confident working in whatever style is required.

Don't make assumptions, ask. In other words, you can spend lots of time prepping for a meeting with a client only to find out that he or she prefers a particular style.


A bibliography is a list of written works. They are commonly used as a list of cited references in an article or a collection of suggested readings.

According to (Reitz, 2014), a bibliography is

"a systematic list or enumeration of written works by a specific author or on a given subject, or that share one or more common characteristics (language, form, period, place of publication, etc.). When a bibliography is about a person, the subject is the bibliographee. A bibliography may be comprehensive or selective. Long bibliographies may be published serially or in book form. The person responsible for compiling a bibliography is the bibliographer.

In the context of scholarly publication, a list of references to sources cited in the text of an article or book, or suggested by the author for further reading, usually appearing at the end of the work. Style manuals describing citation format for the various disciplines (APA, MLA, etc.) are available in the reference section of most academic libraries and online via the World Wide Web."

Bibliographies are particularly important when dealing with monographs because they may be published, distributed, and stored in many different locations. According to Huber (2014, 49),

“bibliographies serve as verification, location, and selection tools. Verification refers to the standard information contained in bibliography citations such as author, title, edition, and place of publication. It may be necessary to consult multiple sources in order to verify all of the needed information about a particular monograph, often moving from a general sources to a particular one with a narrower subject area.

Location indicates which library or other information agency owns a particular title or the vendor from which it my be purchased. Location also specifies where a title can be found in a particular library or information agency.

Online bibliographic databases are the primary sources for identifying institutional holdings. Trade bibliographies, available in both print and electronic formats, are used to determine basic purchasing data. Since collection development is an essential function with a library or information setting, the selection function presupposed bibliographies that indicate the availability of titles within a particular subject domain, by a specific author, or in a given format.”

bibliographiesLocating Bibliographic Resources

Bibliographic resources provide access to lists of materials organized by author, title, or subject. These tools are useful in location and verification of works. They may be comprehensive or selective. They may be general or subject specific.

With online catalogs available for local collections and sources such as WorldCat accessible for the holdings of most libraries, printed bibliographies have disappeared. Increasingly, other types of bibliographic indexes are transitioning to online formats. In most cases, you’ll be using online bibliographic tools.

Bibliographic databases contain contain (abstract or full-text) or index journal articles, reviews, books, book chapters, or other secondary works.

Creating Bibliographies

In some cases, librarians are called upon to assist users in the development of bibliographies. Or, use bibliographies as a way to share resources. Although many different techniques can be used to generate these works, it’s a good idea to begin with the basics. The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has developed guidelines for the preparation of bibliographies. Although general in nature, these guidelines should be the starting point for your work.

try itTry It!
Read Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography (2010) from ALA at http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidelinespreparation.
Think about how these would apply to your discipline. Are there exceptions that would need to be made for the types of writing done in this area?

Citation Chasing

Subject-matter librarians spend much of their time working with scholars on an activity known as "citation chasing". According to Reitz (2014), citation chasing is "a legitimate research technique in which the bibliographies of works already located in a literature search are examined ("mined") for additional sources containing further information on the topic."

There are two approaches to citation chasing: forward and backward.

Forward citation chasing involves seeking out sources that cite an article. The frequency with which an article is cited is one indicator of its importance in the field.

Scenario Stumper
For my research class, I'm supposed to select an important article in the field and figure out the impact of that article. How do I do this?
Do some forward citation chasing. Use citation indexes to help you find articles that have been highly cited. Then, look at some of those articles to see how and why they cited the original article.
The Bottom Line... An article that has been highly cited has had an impact on the field. However, it's up to the researcher to determine whether the impact is positive or negative.

Backward citation chasing involves locating sources cited within an article. Most scholarly articles contain a bibliography or reference section. Scholars use this citation list to locate articles that provided background information or essential ideas to the article.

Scenario Stumper
I just read an outstanding article, however I'm concerned about whether the arguments are based on evidence. How can I tell?
Do some backward citation chasing. Look for the bibliography at the end of the article. Then, search for these articles and examine the information the author used to come up with his or her arguments.
The Bottom Line... Unless the author provides notes or other details about the articles used, it's only possible to make inferences about the information drawn from earlier articles. However, it's a great way to gather background information.

Citation Linker is a tool offered by many libraries. It's designed to help you find a journal article, book, dissertation, or patent from a citation. Just enter the information about the citation such as the title, author, and journal. Then, the system will show you if the library provides access to the item.

try itTry It!
Try some backward citation chasing. Choose a citation from an article you've read this semester. Use Citation Linker to locate an article cited in the article. Provide the original citation and the citation for the backward citation. Apply the citation style from the original article.

Bibliometrics: Citation Analysis to List Checking

shelfWhen conducting research, many scholars are interested in how published research on a particular topic is interrelated. They may use bibliometrics including citation analysis to identify patterns in citations in articles, books, and other publications.

Bibliometics is

"the use of mathematical and statistical methods to study and identify patterns in the usage of materials and services within a library or to analyze the historical development of a specific body of literature, especially its authorship, publication, and use" (Reitz, 2014).

Citation Analysis

In academic and special libraries, citation analysis is an important practice to gather data about what information sources students, faculty, and researchers are using. Citation analysis (also known as citation checking) is

"a bibliometric technique in which works cited in publications are examined to determine patterns of scholarly communication, for example, the comparative importance of books versus journals, or of current versus retrospective sources, in one or more academic disciplines. The citations in student research papers, theses, and dissertations are also examined by librarians for purposes of collection evaluation and development" (Reitz, 2014).

Read White, Howard D. (2009). Citation analysis. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. Taylor and Francis.

Scenario Stumper
The library director is trying to decide whether to keep a very expensive, discipline-specific database. How might we make that decision?
Try citation analysis. Examine the publications of students and faculty in the discipline. Are library users citing sources from this expensive database? If not, maybe it's time consider whether it should be dropped.
The Bottom Line... citation analysis should be only one of a number of considerations in making collection development decisions.

try itTry It!
Do a little citation analysis. Select an article in your discipline area. Check the citations against the resources you have available in your physical and digital library or the IUPUI library. Provide the citation of the article and report how many of the books, journal articles, etc. are available in your library such as 8 of 12 items.

checkoutList Checking

In school and public libraries, list checking is a more popular activity than citation analysis.

List checking, also known as the checklist method, involves matching the collections' holdings against bibliographies, core collections, awards lists, and recommendation lists. Librarians may also check their recent acquisitions against those at other similar libraries to see if they're getting the same new books and other sources. The goal of list checking is to make certain that the library's collection includes titles that meet a level of excellence and also address the needs of users.

Scenario Stumper
I'm concerned about my nonfiction science collection. How do I know if I'm selecting the best science books for youth?
Try some list checking. For instance, check your collection against the National Science Teachers Association's Lists of Outstanding Science Trade Books from recent years.
The Bottom Line... list checking isn't going to make or break your collection. However, it's an effective way to focus in on a particular area of the collection.

try itTry It!
Check a school or public library's collection against last year's National Science Teachers Association's List of Outstanding Science Trade Books. Use WorldCat or the library's website to check the collection.

Citation Indexes

Citation indexes help users trace an idea from the original scholar to those that cited the original work. Researchers use this approach to determine how a concept evolves and what researchers were influenced by others.

A citation index is a bibliographic database that allows users to identify which documents cite earlier documents. Automated citation indexing has made citation analysis research much easier by allowing millions of citations to be analyzed instantly.

The subscription databases on the list below offer an index of citations between publications. They also provide a tool that establishes which documents cite which other documents.

Read McVeigh, Marie E. (2009). Citation indexes and the Web of Science. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. Taylor and Francis.

Many researchers are also using freely available online tools.

Read Antell, Karen & Strothmann, Molly (Summer 2013). Cross-examining Google Scholar. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(4), 279-282.


Read López-Cózar, Emilio, Delgado, Robinson-Garcia, Nicolás & Torres-Salinas, Daniel (2014). The Google Scholar Experiment: How to Index False Papers and Manipulate Bibliographic Indicators. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(3), 446-454.

try itTry It!
Compare Web of Science with Google Scholar. Use the same author or the same article for the comparison.

Scenario Stumper
I'm interested in recent articles regarding light pollution and brightness monitoring in large urban areas. We're developing policy and would like to base our work on the research so we'd like to read the foundational articles in this area.
Web of Science provides the Science Citation Index Expanded. This can be used to find highly cited articles from the past several years.
The Bottom Line... The article "Night-sky brightness monitoring in Hong Kong A city-wide light pollution assessment" by Chun Shing Jason Pun and Chu Wing Co in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, April 2012, 184(4), 2537-2557 has been cited 12 times in the last couple years. It's the "first comprehensive light pollution survey in Hong Kong". This article cited "The dark side of light: a transdisciplinary research agenda for light pollution policy by Franz Hoelker, Timothy Moss, Barbara Giefahn and others in Ecology and Society, 2010, 15(4). It was cited 52 times. It would be a good place to begin your discussion of policy issues.

Applications of Citation Analysis

analysisWhile most scholars use citation analysis to help them locate quality works and identify patterns in their research area, there are many other uses for this approach. Some faculty use this data as support in their tenure and promotion documents. Others use it to identify expert reviewers or as justification for grant funding. However, it's important to remember that this type of analysis isn't perfect. The automated citation indexing tools are still evolving and the techniques used to conduct research haven't been standardized. There's also debate about what types of documents should be included. For instance, are grey literature and e-resources being represented?

"The expanding digital environment drives changes in the criteria for measuring the impact of research and scholarship. As the web matures and the researchers’ works are referred to or published on the web, it is important to have a method for tracking the impact of their work in these new media. Altmetrics, short for alternative metrics, is a quickly developing methodology for measuring the impact of scholarly works and research published on the web.

Proponents of altmetrics note that article citations and journal impact factors do not accurately measure the impact of web-based articles or the ensuing scholarly communication among scientists, scholars, and researchers. Altmetrics, then, supplement the traditional means of measuring scholarly impact and the slower peer-review process...

Academic libraries have a long-standing tradition of collaborating with academic departments and their research faculty to demonstrate the impact of their scholarship through providing “scalable scholarly filters. Librarians anticipate continuing this role by providing access to, and instruction in, the appropriate use of altmetrics to promote the impact and value of the scholarship produced at their institutions in the global scholarly community." (ACRL, 2014).

Some faculty are using tools like Google Scholar to involve students in profiling themselves and their work.

Read Galloway, Linda M. & Rauh, Anne E. (Fall 2014). There’s an app for that: using Google Scholar citations to profile scholars’ work. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. Available: http://www.istl.org/14-fall/app.html

Impact Factor

Tu-Keefner (2014) notes that librarians need to be aware of the peer-review process and editorial policies because they change over time. A journal’s “impact factor” (IF) is another consideration. This measures the perceived influence of a scientific journal. The impact is based on the number of citations the articles in the journal receive. The higher the IF, the higher the prestige. Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports (ISI) ranks journals. However, keep in mind that there have been lots of criticism of this approach to ranking journals.

The Journal Citation Reports (ISI) from Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters) is available in both a Science and Social Sciences Edition. Use the Social Sciences Edition for journals in business.

try itTry It!
Go to Journal Citation Reports from Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters).

Citation Analysis and Collection Use

Many librarians use citation analysis as a way to examine how the library collection is being used. The most common approach is to analyze the work of faculty and students to see what they're citing in their work.


Each of the following studies conducted a citation analysis on works across disciplines. Think about how this approach applied in your discipline.

Read Kayongo, Jessica & Helm, Clarence (January 2012). Relevance of library collections for graduate student research: a citation analysis study of doctoral dissertations at Notre Dame. College & Research Libraries, 73(1), 47-67. Available: http://crl.acrl.org/content/73/1/47.full.pdf+html


Read Currie, Lea & Monroe-Gulick (2013). What do our faculty use? an interdisciplinary citation analysis study. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39, 471-780.

There's not just one way to do a citation analysis. The key is finding an approach that's useful for your library type and your discipline.

Choose one of the following three articles to read. Think about how you might apply their approaches to your library type and discipline.

Read Black, Steve (2013). Practical applications of do-it-yourself citation analysis. The Serials Librarian, 64(1-4), 285-298.


Read Hoffman, Kristin & Doucette, Lise (July 2012). A review of citation analysis methodologies for collection management. College & Research Libraries, 73(4), 321-335. Available: http://crl.acrl.org/content/73/4/321.full.pdf+html


Read Reinsfelder, Thomas L. (May 2012). Citation analysis as a tool to measure the impact of individual research consultations. College & Research Libraries, 73(3), 263-277. Available: http://crl.acrl.org/content/73/3/263.full.pdf+html

If you're interesting in this area, I highly recommend purchasing Roemer, Robin Chin & Borchardt, Rachel (2015). Meaningful Metrics: 21st Century Librarian's Guide to Bibliometrics, Altmetics, and Research Impact. ACRL.


ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee (2014). Top trends in academic libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 75(6), 294-302. Available: http://crln.acrl.org/content/75/6/294.full

Cassell, Kay Ann & Hiremath, Uma (2012). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction (3rd Edition). Available through IUPUI.

Huber, Jeffrey T. (2014). Bibliographic sources for monographs. In J. Huber & S. Swogger, Introduction to Reference Sources in Health Sciences, Sixth Edition. ALA. Google Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=UJr9AwAAQBAJ

Marco, Guy A. (2012). The American Public Library Handbook. ABC-CLIO. Google Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=lvxBIOKVsQUC

Reitz, Joan M. (2014). Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Libraries Unlimited. Available: http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_a.aspx.

Roemer, Robin Chin & Borchardt, Rachel (2015). Meaningful Metrics: 21st Century Librarian's Guide to Bibliometrics, Altmetics, and Research Impact. ACRL.


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