Environmental Impact: A Preliminary Citation Analysis of Local Faculty in a New Academic Program in Environmental and Human Health Applied to Collection Development in an Academic Library
Johnson, Bill, Library Philosophy and Practice
Abstract: New academic programs in environmental science prompted a citation analysis of local faculty by the Texas Tech University Library (TTU). The purpose of this study is to characterize the citation patterns of the interdisciplinary field of environmental and human health as compared with other disciplines and to apply the results to collection development. Twenty-four articles were selected from 1996 and 1997 with over 1600 citations to more than 950 listed references. The average age of citations was 10.5 years for journals and 9.4 years for books. On average, journals were cited 67% of the time while books were cited 17% of the time. Proceedings, theses, and technical reports were also cited but that data was not applied to collection development. The impact on collection development has been to identify a small number of specific books which were frequently cited but were not in the collection and to identify important subject terms with which to guide the selection of related books. Finally, 12 new subscriptions to frequently cited journals will be reviewed with faculty to determine their suitability as additions to the collection.
This paper was also published in the March 1999 issue of the electronic journal LIBRES. (http://www.curtin.edu.au/curtin/dept/sils/libres/libre9n1/toxcite.htm)
In response to two distinct requests from life science faculty on the TTU campus for a description of library support for new environmental studies programs, a document was prepared describing the collection, document delivery service options, spending patterns for acquisitions, etc. [Appendix E] In order to better understand how to support the research activity of these faculty, especially the group at the new Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), a citation analysis was undertaken which would allow for refining the original description of program support by the University Library. It was also hoped that such a study would add a qualitative dimension to the Library's effort to gather use data amidst an ongoing debate over the validity of journal reshelving counts.
TIEHH was formed as a joint venture between Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in 1997. It is dedicated to be a leader in research and teaching between environmental and human health. It will implement "good science" and technology in the interface of good environmental policy and economic development. The charter faculty of the Institute [Appendix A] established a solid record of original research and service while at Clemson. A representative sample of their scholarly output in 1996 & 1997 constitute the study sample for this analysis.
Citation studies reveal much about scholarly communication and can be an effective tool to guide collection development in academic libraries. These studies typically take one of two directions: "local" or "global." Studies of "local" faculty are believed by many to yield more relevant results than "global" investigations to assist librarians making serials selection decisions for their institutions. Aside from practical applications, citation studies offer objective insight into the fundamental research behavior of faculty and graduate students. For example, citation studies have been used to better understand how invisible colleges communicate, to identify discipline specific core journals, to make distinctions in research patterns between pure and applied scientists, etc.
In a study comparing two plant science journals considered either applied or basic in scientific content, Nordstrom (1987) characterized each based on citation age, proportion of cited formats, number of citations per article, and the distribution of citations among sections of each publication. He reported that basic science publications generally cited more works and that these works tended to be somewhat older than the applied science counterpart. Comparing the results of his study to this one with regard to these two parameters suggests that the group of environmental science faculty in the present study could be considered as belonging to the basic science group. However, Nordstrom suggested that applied scientists relied on journals 68% of the time and used technical reports with some frequency. These aspects of the present study suggest that environmental researchers fall into the applied science group. The interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies suggests that they do not fit neatly into either group but lie on a continuum somewhere in between.
Systematics research, like environmental studies is quite synthetic, drawing information from a wide range of other disciplines. This is where similarities end, however. Citations to the taxonomic literature are generally much older and follow a unique set of international "rules and standards." For example, citations associated with synonymies may not appear in the literature cited section of a publication. Some 11% of journal citations and 23% of book citations could be overlooked if the analysis failed to include the list of synonymies. [Delendick 1989] Many other types of citations may not be listed in the bibliography of an article on taxonomy. The environmental literature studied here also contained citations to scientific and corporate names not listed in the references at the end of some articles. While the frequency of this practice was not measured, 36% of the articles studied had such "non-bibliographic" citations.
Faculty citation patterns reflect dynamic research priorities, offering guidance as academic libraries seek to support campus research and teaching activities. Library support for scientific research has become quite a challenge at the end of the 20th century due to shrinking budgets, escalating costs of scientific journals, and the advent of the electronic journal. Local citation patterns can help serials managers make objective selection decisions, saving money and creating a collection that will be more widely used. [McCain 1981]
Citation studies of the scientific literature consistently demonstrate that journals continue to be more heavily utilized in the exchange of information with some disciplines reporting that journals are cited as much as 92% of the time with all other formats making up the remaining 8% of citations. [Walcott 1994] It is often helpful to conduct some form of faculty survey in association with a citation study to uncover complimentary information and clear up questions prompted by the citation analysis. [Crotteau 1997] While no formal survey was conducted here, numerous email messages have been exchanged with faculty and have proven helpful in keeping this study on track. For example, some faculty were not aware that some journals were available electronically through Academic Press (IDEAL). The dialogue prompted by this study has fostered an exchange of information about products and services offered by the University Library making faculty more aware of how the Library supports their teaching and research activities in a growing electronic landscape.
Comparisons between local citation patterns and the international data provided by Journal Citation Reports (JCR) of the Institute of Scientific Information help to point out the strength of journals among the international research community. A frequently used international ranking, refered to as an impact factor, has been used …
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Publication information: Article title: Environmental Impact: A Preliminary Citation Analysis of Local Faculty in a New Academic Program in Environmental and Human Health Applied to Collection Development in an Academic Library. Contributors: Johnson, Bill - Author. Journal title: Library Philosophy and Practice. Volume: 2. Issue: 2 Publication date: Spring 2000. Page number: Not available. © 2009 University of Idaho Library. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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