Visualizing the intellectual structure with paper-reference matrices

Jian Zhang, Chaomei Chen, Jiexun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Visualizing the intellectual structure of scientific domains using co-cited units such as references or authors has become a routine for domain analysis. In previous studies, paper-reference matrices are usually transformed into reference-reference matrices to obtain co-citation relationships, which are then visualized in different representations, typically as node-link networks, to represent the intellectual structures of scientific domains. Such network visualizations sometimes contain tightly knit components, which make visual analysis of the intellectual structure a challenging task. In this study, we propose a new approach to reveal cocitation relationships. Instead of using a reference-reference matrix, we directly use the original paper-reference matrix as the information source, and transform the paper-reference matrix into an FP-tree and visualize it in a Java-based prototype system. We demonstrate the usefulness of our approach through visual analyses of the intellectual structure of two domains: Information Visualization and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The results show that our visualization not only retains the major information of co-citation relationships, but also reveals more detailed sub-structures of tightly knit clusters than a conventional node-link network visualization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5290724
Pages (from-to)1153-1160
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0612129. Thomson Reuters provides the bibliographic data for the analysis. We also thank Michael S. Vogeley, Danny Pan and John Parejko for their constructive suggestions on the SDSS case study. Funding for the SDSS and SDSS-II has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The SDSS Web Site is

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Visualizing the intellectual structure with paper-reference matrices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this