Friday, 7 November 2008

Food for thought? Citations vs Accesses

Checking out the latest article in Chemistry Central Journal, I was surprised to see that in just 5 days after publication it had 5000 accesses. Today after 8 days, it has around 9000. This already makes it the most accessed paper ever from that journal. The article in question is by DP Naughton and A Petroczi, "Heavy metal ions in wines: meta-analysis of target hazard quotients reveal health risks".

At first, I couldn't figure out what was going on. A quick google, however, shows that the article has been picked up by several bloggers and news sites chasing the "wine is bad for you" angle. I also noticed that the paper is top of the BioMedCentral most viewed articles in the last 30 days. Of the other top 10, 6 are on nutrition or food-related topics.

I guess that this highlights a difference between the number of citations and the number of accesses. The number of citations reflects the impact of the paper within the scientific community, while the number of accesses also includes the impact within the broader community, arguably a more valid measure of its importance :-). Of course, for closed access journals only scientists will be able to access the papers and so the difference will not be so great (except in order of magnitude, that is).

No comments: