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Book Reviews as ‘Mega-Citations’: A Fresh Look at Citation Theory

By Alesia Zuccala and Rens Bod


We review the history of citation theory to show how the book review fits the role of ‘megacitation’ due to its formal, public presence within the scholarly communication system. The purpose of a book review is to alert readers to a newly published book and to cite different parts of the book in the assessment of its scholarly credibility and writing style. A book review rarely receives citations from other documents, but as a content-rich mega-citation it has potential to join the ‘citation proper ’ in the development of a composite indicator for evaluating the impact of a book. Thomson Reuters ’ Web of Knowledge (WoK) is currently in a strong position to compile data necessary for this composite indicator. While the selection of books for the new Book Citation Index (BCI) is still underway, work needs to be done to ascertain the language of reviewing across different fields. Then, if database links between books, book reviews, journal articles and publishers become more accurate, bibliometricians may consider applying the megacitation to large-scale research evaluations

Year: 2013
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