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Recommending research articles using citation data

Andre Vellino (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 16 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to present an empirical comparison between the recommendations generated by a citation-based recommender for research articles in a digital library with those produced by a user-based recommender (ExLibris “bX”).


For these computer experiments 9,453 articles were randomly selected from among 6.6 M articles in a digital library as starting points for generating recommendations. The same seed articles were used to generate recommendations in both recommender systems and the resulting recommendations were compared according to the “semantic distance” between the seed articles and the recommended ones, the coverage of the recommendations and the spread in publication dates between the seed and the resulting recommendations.


Out of the 9,453 test runs, the recommendation coverage was 30 per cent for the user-based recommender vs 24 per cent for the citation-based one. Only 12 per cent of seed articles produced recommendations with both recommenders and none of the recommended articles were the same. Both recommenders yielded recommendations with about the same semantic distance between the seed article and the recommended articles. The average differences between the publication dates of the recommended articles and the seed articles is dramatically greater for the citation-based recommender (+7.6 years) compared with the forward-looking user-based recommender.


This paper reports on the only known empirical comparison between the Ex Librix “bX” recommendation system and a citation-based collaborative recommendation system. It extends prior preliminary findings with a larger data set and with an analysis of the publication dates of recommendations for each system.



Vellino, A. (2015), "Recommending research articles using citation data", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 597-609.



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