The sustainability and stabilization of tag vocabulary in CiteULike

Jin Ma (Baruch College, The City University, New York, New York, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 21 September 2012



The purpose of this study is to examine the growth patterns of tag vocabulary in collaborative tagging systems to verify the sustainability and stabilization of tag distributions. Both sustainability and stabilization are essential to the mining and categorization of information driven by tagging behaviors.


The study was based on time series data of CiteULike from November 2004 to April 2010. Power law distributions were detected to reveal statistical regularities and tagging patterns. Logistic regression analysis with time‐dependent covariates was conducted to identify the factors affecting the growth of distinct tags for articles. The significance of the effects and the time taken for a given article to reach its tagging maturity were also explored.


Time series plots and trend analysis illustrated the continuous growth of the tagging system. Exploratory analysis of power law distribution fittings indicated a sign of system stability known as scale invariance. Logistic regression results demonstrated that for a particular article, the number of users who tagged the article, the initial date when the article was tagged, and the life span of the article are statistically significant to the ratio of the distinct tag number to the total tag number for a given article. These results confirmed that the distinct tag ratio of an article gives rise to a stable pattern.


Though extensive work has been done on the patterns of tag vocabulary, it is not clear how the growth of distinctive tags behaves in relation to the total number of tag applications, considering time‐dependent covariates such as the number of users, and the longevity of an article. This paper sets to complement the literature on the existing methodology and investigate this property in detail.



Ma, J. (2012), "The sustainability and stabilization of tag vocabulary in CiteULike", Online Information Review, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 655-674.

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