Forward citations are widely recognized as a useful measure of the impact of scientific papers. However, an inherent characteristic of forward citations is that they take time to accumulate. This makes them valuable for retrospective impact evaluations, but less helpful for prospective forecasting exercises. To overcome this, it would be desirable to have an indicator that forecasts future citations close to the time a scientific paper is published. In this study, we discuss scientific paper usage (full-text PDF downloads and HTML views) as a useful indicator that precedes citations. This paper represents the first large scale study of usage for IEEE Xplore papers, which account for about one-third of all Electrical Engineering and Information Technology papers. We also resolve earlier contradictory results where some studies showed high correlation between usage and citations, while others highlighted low overlap between individual highly cited papers and high usage papers. We also show that usage significantly precedes citations, such that a usage indicator can predict the future citation impact of papers six months or less after publication. Finally, we develop a practical usage indicator that is relatively simple to calculate and easy to understand.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences(all)
- Computer Science Applications
- Library and Information Sciences