Bibliographic coupling

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Documents A and B both cite documents C, D and E, hence the documents A and B have a bibliographic coupling strength of three.
Figure visualizing bibliographic coupling between Documents A and B.

Bibliographic coupling, like Co-citation, is a similarity measure that uses citation analysis to establish a similarity relationship between documents. Bibliographic coupling occurs when two works reference a common third work in their bibliographies. It is an indication that a probability exists that the two works treat a related subject matter.[1]

Two documents are bibliographically coupled if they both cite one or more documents in common. The "coupling strength" of two given documents is higher the more citations to other documents they share. The figure to the right illustrates the concept of bibliographic coupling. In the figure, documents A and B both cite documents C, D and E. Thus, documents A and B have a bibliographic coupling strength of 3.

Bibliographic coupling can be useful in a wide variety of fields, since it helps researchers find related research done in the past. On the other hand, two documents are co-cited if they are both independently cited by one or more documents.


The concept of bibliographic coupling was introduced by M. M. Kessler of MIT in a paper published in 1963,[2] and has been embraced in the work of the information scientist Eugene Garfield.[3] It is one of the earliest citation analysis methods for document similarity computation and some have questioned its usefulness, pointing out that two works may reference completely unrelated subject matter in the third. Furthermore, bibliographic coupling is a retrospective similarity measure,[4] meaning the information used to establish the similarity relationship between documents lies in the past and is static, i.e. bibliographic coupling strength cannot change over time, since outgoing citation counts are fixed.

The co-citation analysis approach introduced by Henry Small and published in 1973 addressed this shortcoming of bibliographic coupling by considering a document's incoming citations to assess similarity, a measure that can change over time. Additionally, the co-citation measure reflects the opinion of many authors and thus represents a better indicator of subject similarity.[5]

In 1972 Robert Amsler published a paper[6] describing a measure for determining subject similarity between two documents by fusing bibliographic coupling and co-citation analysis.[7]

In 1981 Howard White and Belver Griffith introduced author co-citation analysis (ACA).[8]

More recently, in 2009, Gipp and Beel introduced a new approach termed Co-citation Proximity Analysis (CPA). CPA is based on the concept of co-citation, but represents a refinement to Small's measure in that CPA additionally considers the placement and proximity of citations within a document's full-text. The assumption is that citations in closer proximity are more likely to exhibit a stronger similarity relationship.[9]

In summary, a chronological overview of citation analysis methods includes:

  • Bibliographic coupling (1963)
  • Co-citation analysis (published 1973)
  • Amsler measure (1972)
  • Author co-citation analysis (1981)
  • Co-citation proximity analysis (CPA) (2009)


Online sites that make use of bibliographic coupling include The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies and CiteSeer.IST

Further reading[edit]

For an interesting summary of the progression of the study of citations see.[10] The paper is more like a memoir than a research paper, but it is full of decisions, research expectations, interests and motivations—including the story of how Henry Small approached Belver Griffith with the idea of co-citation and they became collaborators, mapping science as a whole.

See also[edit]


Bibliographic Coupling[edit]

  • M. M. Kessler (1963), "Bibliographic coupling between scientific papers." "American Documentation", 14(1), pp. 10–25.
  • M. M. Kessler (1963). "An experimental study of bibliographic coupling between technical papers." IEEE Transaction on Information Theory, 9(1) pp. 49.

Co-citation analysis[edit]

  • Henry Small (1973). "Co-citation in the scientific literature: a new measure of the relationship between two documents." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 24, 265-269.
  • Henry Small & B. C. Griffith (1974). "The structure of scientific literatures (I) Identifying and graphing specialties." Science Studies 4(1): 17-40.
  • B. C. Griffith, et al. (1974). "The structure of scientific literatures (II) Towards a macro- and micro-structure for science." Science Studies 4(4): 339-365.
  • H. M. Collins (1974). "The TEA set: Tacit knowledge and scientific networks." Science Studies 4(2): 165-186.

Co-citation Proximity Analysis (CPA)[edit]

  • Bela Gipp, (Co-)Citation Proximity Analysis – A Measure to Identify Related Work, Feb., 2006. Doctoral Proposal, VLBA-Lab, Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Supervisor: Prof. Claus Rautenstrauch VLBA-lab
  • Bela Gipp and J. Beel, "Citation Proximity Analysis (CPA) – A New Approach for Identifying Related Work Based on Co-Citation Analysis." Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI’09), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2009. ISSI’09
  • Bela Gipp, “Measuring Document Relatedness by Citation Proximity Analysis and Citation Order Analysis,” in Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries: Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Digital Libraries (ECDL’10), 2010. Springer

Author Co-citation Analysis (ACA)[edit]

  • H. D. White & B. C. Griffith (1981). "Author co-citation: a literature measure of intellectual structure." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 32, 163-171. Wiley
  • K. W. McCain (1986). "Co-cited author mapping as a valid representation of intellectual structure." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 37(3): 111-122.
  • M. J. Culnan (1987). "Mapping the intellectual structure of MIS, 1980-1985: A co-citation analysis." MIS Quarterly, 11(3): 341-353. ACM
  • K. W. McCain (1990). "Mapping authors in intellectual space: a technical overview." Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 41(6): 433-443.
  • D. L. Hoffman & M. B. Holbrook (1993). "The intellectual structure of consumer research: A bibliometrics study of author co-citations in the first 15 years of the journal of consumer research." Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 505-517.
  • S. B. Eom (1996). "Mapping the intellectual structure of research in decision support systems through author cocitation analysis (1971-1993)." Decision Support Systems, 16(4): 315-338. ACM

Citation Studies in a More General Context[edit]

  • Henry Small (1978). "Cited Documents as Concept Symbols," Social Studies of Science, vol.8, p. 327-340. [1]
  • Henry Small (1982). "Citation context analysis." In: Brenda Dervin and M. J. Voigt, eds., Progress in Communication Sciences, volume 3, pp. 287–310. Ablex Publishing, 1982.
  • David C. Blair & M. E. Maron (1985). "An evaluation of retrieval effectiveness for a full-text document-retrieval system." Communications of the ACM, 28(3): 289-299. ACM
  • Sergey Brin & Lawrence Page (1998). "The anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual Web search engine." Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, vol. 30, no. 1-7, pp. 107–117. ACM
  • Yulan He & Siu Cheung Hui (2002). "Mining a web citation database for author co-citation analysis." Information Processing and Management: An International Journal, 38(4): 491-508. ACM
  • S. Bradshaw (2003). "Reference directed indexing: Redeeming relevance for subject search in citation indexes." Proceedings of the European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL), pp. 499–510.
  • Anna Ritchie, Simone Teufel & Stephen Robertson (2006). "Creating a test collection for citation-based IR experiments." Proceedings of the main conference on Human Language Technology Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association of Computational Linguistics, pp. 391–398, June 4–09, 2006, New York.
  • Makoto Iwayama, Atsushi Fujii, Noriko Kando & Yozo Marukawa (2006). "Evaluating patent retrieval in the third NTCIR workshop." Information Processing and Management: An International Journal, 42(1): 207-221. ACM
  • Atsushi Fujii (2007). "Enhancing patent retrieval by citation analysis." SIGIR '07 Proceedings of the 30th annual international ACM SIGIR conference on Research and development in information retrieval, pp. 793–794. ACM
  • Trevor Strohman, W. Bruce Croft & David Jensen (2007). "Recommending citations for academic papers." Proceedings of the 30th annual international ACM SIGIR conference on Research and development in information retrieval, July 23–27, 2007, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Anna Ritchie, Stephen Robertson & Simone Teufel (2008). "Comparing citation contexts for information retrieval." CIKM '08 Proceeding of the 17th ACM conference on Information and knowledge management. ACM


  1. ^ Martyn, J., 1964. "Bibliographic coupling". Journal of Documentation, 20(4): 236.
  2. ^ "Bibliographic coupling between scientific papers," American Documentation 24 (1963), pp. 123-131.
  3. ^ See for example "Multiple Independent Discovery and Creativity in Science," Current Contents, Nov. 3, 1980, pp. 5-10, reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, vol. 4 (1979-80), pp. 660-665.
  4. ^ Garfield Eugene, 2001.From Bibliographic Coupling to Co-Citation Analysis via Algorithmic Historio-Bibliography presented at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  5. ^ Henry Small, 1973. "Co-citation in the scientific literature: A new measure of the relationship between two documents". Journal of the American Society for Information Science (JASIS), volume 24(4), pp. 265-269. doi = 10.1002/asi.4630240406
  6. ^ Robert Amsler, Dec. 1972 "Applications of citation-based automatic classification", Linguistics Research Center, University Texas at Austin, Technical Report 72-14.
  7. ^ Class Amsler written by Bruno Martins and developed by the XLDB group of the Department of Informatics of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal
  8. ^ Howard D. White and Belver C. Griffith, 1981. Author Cocitation: A Literature Measure of Intellectual Structure. Journal of the American Society for Information Science (JASIS), May, 1981 volume 32(3), pp. 163-171. -- the first ACA paper. DOI = 10.1002/asi.4630320302, US =
  9. ^ Bela Gipp and Joeran Beel, 2009 Citation Proximity Analysis (CPA) – A new approach for identifying related work based on Co-Citation Analysis in Proceedings of the 12th international conference on scientometrics and informetrics (issi’09), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 2009, pp. 571-575.
  10. ^ Henry Small, 2001. "Belver and Henry". Scientometrics, vol. 51(3): pp. 489-497.
  11. ^ Bela Gipp, Norman Meuschke & Mario Lipinski, 2015. "CITREC: An Evaluation Framework for Citation-Based Similarity Measures based on TREC Genomics and PubMed Central" in Proceedings of the iConference 2015, Newport Beach, California, 2015.

External links[edit]

Jeppe Nicolaisen, Bibliographic coupling in Birger Hjørland, ed., Core Concepts in Library and Information Science