Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science

Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science Citation: Bollen J, Van de Sompel H, Hagberg A, Bettencourt L, Chute R, et al. (2009) Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science. PLoS ONE 4(3): e4803. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004803.

A bit dated but interesting none the less:

Abstract

Background

Intricate maps of science have been created from citation data to visualize the structure of scientific activity. However, most scientific publications are now accessed online. Scholarly web portals record detailed log data at a scale that exceeds the number of all existing citations combined. Such log data is recorded immediately upon publication and keeps track of the sequences of user requests (clickstreams) that are issued by a variety of users across many different domains. Given these advantages of log datasets over citation data, we investigate whether they can produce high-resolution, more current maps of science.

Methodology

Over the course of 2007 and 2008, we collected nearly 1 billion user interactions recorded by the scholarly web portals of some of the most significant publishers, aggregators and institutional consortia. The resulting reference data set covers a significant part of world-wide use of scholarly web portals in 2006, and provides a balanced coverage of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. A journal clickstream model, i.e. a first-order Markov chain, was extracted from the sequences of user interactions in the logs. The clickstream model was validated by comparing it to the Getty Research Institute’s Architecture and Art Thesaurus. The resulting model was visualized as a journal network that outlines the relationships between various scientific domains and clarifies the connection of the social sciences and humanities to the natural sciences.

Conclusions

Maps of science resulting from large-scale clickstream data provide a detailed, contemporary view of scientific activity and correct the underrepresentation of the social sciences and humanities that is commonly found in citation data.

An improvement over traditional citation analysis but it seems to be on the coarse side to me.

That is to say users don’t request nor do authors cite papers as a whole. In other words, there are any number of ideas in a particular paper which may merit citation and a user or author may be interested in only one.

Tracing the lineage of an idea should be getting easier, yet I have the uneasy feeling that it is becoming more difficult.

Yes?

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