Blog Citations as Indicators of the Societal Impact of Research: Content Analysis of Social Sciences Blogs

  • Jamali, Hamid R. (Department of Library and Information Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Kharazmi University) ;
  • Alimohammadi, Dariush (Department of Library and Information Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Kharazmi University)
  • Received : 2014.09.19
  • Accepted : 2015.04.12
  • Published : 2015.06.30


This article analyzes motivations behind social sciences blog posts citing journal articles in order to find out whether blog citations are good indicators for the societal impact or benefits of research. A random sample of 300 social sciences blog posts (out of 1,233 blog posts) from published between 01/01/2012 to 18/06/2014 were subjected to content analysis. The 300 blog posts had 472 references including 424 journal articles from 269 different journals. Sixty-one (22.68%) of all cited journals were from the social sciences and most of the journals with high frequency were highly cited general science journals such as PNAS and Science. Seventy-five percent of all journals were referenced only once. The average age of articles cited at the time of citation was 5.8 years. Discussion and criticism were the two main categories of motivations. Overall, the study shows the potential of blog citations as an altmetric measure and as a proxy for assessing the research impact. A considerable number of citation motivations in blogs such as disputing a belief, suggesting policies, providing a solution to a problem, reacting to media, criticism and the like seemed to support gaining societal benefits. Societal benefits are considered as helping stimulate new approaches to social issues, or informing public debate and policymaking. Lower self-citation (compared to some other altmetric measures such as tweets) and the fact that blogging involves generating content (i.e. an intellectual process) give them an advantage for altmetrics. However, limitations and contextual issues such as disciplinary differences and low uptake of altmetrics, in general, in scholarly communication should not be ignored when using blogs as a data source for altmetrics.



Supported by : Kharazmi University


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