The purpose of this paper is to gain knowledge about the status and characteristics of the current web citations in published articles by Iranian researchers in the Science Citation Index (SCI). Besides investigating the growth in the presence of web resources in publications, the paper examines the accessibility and decay of web resources. Furthermore, the author will examine the provided information by the URLs to determine whether the cited contents by the authors signify the same information as the URLs.
The author used the survey research method. Thus, all documents by Iranian chemistry researchers recorded in the SCI database during 2006‐2009 were identified and then transferred to an Excel base. After a one‐by‐one examination, 46,762 web citations were extracted from a total number of 10,333 documents and were then analyzed, with the aid of two research assistants, in two months time (November and December of 2010), as specified in the research objectives. The citations were categorized into nine groups based on the feedback from the URLs' entries in the Internet Explorer browser.
The results showed that 46,762 citations (20 percent) of the total 187,823 available citations in the articles included web citations. The proportion percentage of web citations increased from 9 percent in 2006 to 39 percent in 2009. The average number of web citations for every article is 4.52. The most widely cited top level domains in URLs include the.org and.edu with, respectively, 31 percent and 23 percent; and when compared to other domains they reveal a greater tendency for stability. The highest percentage of inactive URLs was found to be associated with the .gov top level domain. Ultimately, 40,954 web citations were rendered accessible, of which 79 percent allowed easy and long‐term access to the authors' information intended in URLs. The decay rate for citations reveals an annual 5.2 percent increase. Long‐time inaccessibility to the authors' same intended information was shown to be mostly from URLs that returned the 404 error and also the URLs that had gone through information update. An about eight year half‐life was estimated for Iran's chemistry publications, which is rather promising in comparison with other fields of study.
The paper offers a quantitative analysis of the state of web citations application among chemistry researchers in Iran and voices concerns related to web citations in the publications in this field. The results of this study may be useful for providers of web contents, authors and editors in the field of chemistry publications.
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