Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Data and Information Science

4 Issues per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Usage Count: A New Indicator to Detect Research Fronts

Guoqiang Liang / Haiyan Hou / Zhigang Hu / Fu Huang / Yajie Wang / Shanshan Zhang
Published Online: 2017-02-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jdis-2017-0005


Purpose: Research fronts build on recent work, but using times cited as a traditional indicator to detect research fronts will inevitably result in a certain time lag. This study attempts to explore the effects of usage count as a new indicator to detect research fronts in shortening the time lag of classic indicators in research fronts detection.

Design/methodology/approach: An exploratory study was conducted where the new indicator “usage count” was compared to the traditional citation count, “times cited,” in detecting research fronts of the regenerative medicine domain. An initial topic search of the term “regenerative medicine” returned 10,553 records published between 2000 and 2015 in the Web of Science (WoS). We first ranked these records with usage count and times cited, respectively, and selected the top 2,000 records for each. We then performed a co-citation analysis in order to obtain the citing papers of the co-citation clusters as the research fronts. Finally, we compared the average publication year of the citing papers as well as the mean cited year of the co-citation clusters.

Findings: The citing articles detected by usage count tend to be published more recently compared with times cited within the same research front. Moreover, research fronts detected by usage count tend to be within the last two years, which presents a higher immediacy and real-time feature compared to times cited. There is approximately a three-year time span among the mean cited years (known as “intellectual base”) of all clusters generated by usage count and this figure is about four years in the network of times cited. In comparison to times cited, usage count is a dynamic and instant indicator.

Research limitations: We are trying to find the cutting-edge research fronts, but those generated based on co-citations may refer to the hot research fronts. The usage count of older highly cited papers was not taken into consideration, because the usage count indicator released by WoS only reflects usage logs after February 2013.

Practical implications: The article provides a new perspective on using usage count as a new indicator to detect research fronts.

Originality/value: Usage count can greatly shorten the time lag in research fronts detection, which would be a promising complementary indicator in detection of the latest research fronts.

Keywords: Research front; Citation analysis; Usage count; Times cited


  • Bollen, J., van de Sompel, H., Smith, J.A., & Luce, R. (2005). Toward alternative metrics of journal impact: A comparison of download and citation data. Information Processing and Management, 41(6), 1419–1440.Google Scholar

  • Braam, R.R., Moed, H.F., & van Raan, A.F.J. (1991). Mapping of science by combined co-citation and word analysis. I: Structural aspects. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(4), 233–251.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chen, C. (2006). CiteSpace II: Detecting and visualizing emerging trends and transient patterns in scientific literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(3), 359–377.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Das, A.K., & Mishra, S. (2014). The spread of scientific information: Insights from the web usage statistics in PLoS article-level metrics. Journal of Scientometric Research, 3(2), 1–16.Google Scholar

  • Dhillon, I.S. (2004). Kernel k-means, Spectral clustering and normalized cuts. Compute, Cl(78712), 551–556.Google Scholar

  • Garfield, E. (1994). Research fronts. Current Contents, 41(10), 3–7.Google Scholar

  • Kuwahara, A.S.Y. (2007). Benchmarking S&T capacity and future direction of S&T development in Japan (Policy analysis of the science and technology basic plans). Journal of Science Policy & Research Management, 21(1), 28–34.Google Scholar

  • Lin e, M.B., & Sandison, A. (1975). Practical interpretation of citation and library use studies. College an Research Libraries, 36(5), 393–396.Google Scholar

  • Martín-Martín, A. (2016). Thomson Reuters utiliza altmétricas: Usage counts para los artículos indizados en la Web of Science. Anuario ThinkEPI, 10, 209–221.Google Scholar

  • Morris, S.A., Yen, G., Wu, Z., & Asnake, B. (2003). Time line visualization of research fronts. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(5), 413–422.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nagano, H. (2005). Comprehensive analysis of science and technology benchmarking and foresight. Nistep Report. Retrieved on November 27, 2016, from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40007130230.

  • Persson, O. (1994). The intellectual base and research fronts of JASIS 1986–1990. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 45(1), 31–38.Google Scholar

  • Porter, A.L., Guo, Y., & Chiavatta, D. (2011). Tech mining: Text mining and visualization tools, as applied to nanoenhanced solar cells. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, 1(2), 172–181.Google Scholar

  • Price, D.J. (1965). Networks of scientific papers. Science, 149(3683), 510.Google Scholar

  • Schloegl, C., & Gorraiz, J. (2010). Comparison of citation and usage indicators: The case of oncology journals. Scientometrics, 82(3), 567–580.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Schloegl, C., & Gorraiz, J. (2011). Global usage versus global citation metrics: The case of pharmacology journals. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 62(1), 161–170.Google Scholar

  • Shibata, N., Kajikawa, Y., Takeda, Y., & Matsushima, K. (2008). Detecting emerging research fronts based on topological measures in citation networks of scientific publications. Technovation, 28(11), 758–775.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Small, H., & Griffith, B.C. (1974). The structure of scientific literatures I: Identifying and graphing specialties. Social Studies of Science, 4(1), 17–40.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Takahashi, K., & Yamanaka, S. (2006). Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. Cell, 126(4), 663–676.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Takebe, T., Zhang, R.R., Koike, H., Kimuraet, M., Yoshizawa, E., Enomura, M., Koike, N., Sekine, K., & Taniguchi, H. (2013). Generation of a vascularized and functional human liver from an iPSC-derived organ bud transplant. Nature Protocols, 9(2), 481–484.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Thomson Reuters. (2015). Usage count. Retrieved on September 10, 2016, from http://images.webofknowledge.com/WOKRS521R5/help/WOK/hp_usage_score.html.

  • Urashima, K. (2007). Comprehensive analysis of science and technology benchmarking and foresighting. International Journal of Plasma Envirnoment Science & Technology, 1(1), 3–7.Google Scholar

  • Vlachý. (1984). Priority choice and research front specialties in physics. Czechoslovak Journal of Physics B, 34(1), 95–98.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • von Luxburg, U. (2007). A tutorial on spectral clustering. Statistics and Computing, 17(4), 395–416.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wang, X., Fang, Z., & Sun, X. (2016). Usage patterns of scholarly articles on Web of Science: A study on Web of Science usage count. Scientometrics, 109(2), 917–926.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Yan, K.K., & Gerstein, M. (2011). The spread of scientific information: Insights from the web usage statistics in PLoS article-level metrics. PLoS ONE, 6(5), 1–7.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-09-26

Revised: 2016-11-27

Accepted: 2016-12-04

Published Online: 2017-02-18

Published in Print: 2017-02-01

Citation Information: Journal of Data and Information Science, ISSN (Online) 2543-683X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jdis-2017-0005.

Export Citation

© 2017 Guoqiang Liang et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in