Nine million book items and eleven million citations: a study of book-based scholarly communication using OpenCitations

Yongjun Zhu, Erjia Yan, Silvio Peroni, Chao Che

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Books have been widely used to share information and contribute to human knowledge. However, the quantitative use of books as a method of scholarly communication is relatively unexamined compared to journal articles and conference papers. This study uses the COCI dataset (a comprehensive open citation dataset provided by OpenCitations) to explore books’ roles in scholarly communication. The COCI data we analyzed includes 445,826,118 citations from 46,534,705 bibliographic entities. By analyzing such a large amount of data, we provide a thorough, multifaceted understanding of books. Among the investigated factors are (1) temporal changes to book citations; (2) book citation distributions; (3) years to citation peak; (4) citation half-life; and (5) characteristics of the most-cited books. Results show that books have received less than 4% of total citations, and have been cited mainly by journal articles. Moreover, 97.96% of books have been cited fewer than ten times. Books take longer than other bibliographic materials to reach peak citation levels, yet are cited for the same duration as journal articles. Most-cited books tend to cover general (yet essential) topics, theories, and technological concepts in mathematics and statistics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1112
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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