The purpose of this paper is to clarify earlier work on journal diffusion metrics. Classical journal indicators such as the Garfield impact factor do not measure the breadth of influence across the literature of a particular journal title. As a new approach to measuring research influence, the study complements these existing metrics with a series of formally described diffusion factors.
Using a publication‐citation matrix as an organising construct, the paper develops formal descriptions of two forms of diffusion metric: “relative diffusion factors” and “journal diffusion factors” in both their synchronous and diachronous forms. It also provides worked examples for selected library and information science and economics journals, plus a sample of health information papers to illustrate their construction and use.
Diffusion factors capture different aspects of the citation reception process than existing bibliometric measures. The paper shows that diffusion factors can be applied at the whole journal level or for sets of articles and that they provide a richer evidence base for citation analyses than traditional measures alone.
The focus of this paper is on clarifying the concepts underlying diffusion factors and there is unlimited scope for further work to apply these metrics to much larger and more comprehensive data sets than has been attempted here.
These new tools extend the range of tools available for bibliometric, and possibly webometric, analysis. Diffusion factors might find particular application in studies where the research questions focus on the dynamic aspects of innovation and knowledge transfer.
This paper will be of interest to those with theoretical interests in informetric distributions as well as those interested in science policy and innovation studies.
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