This interactive map reveals which journals cite each other the most

Capturing the exchange of ideas.

14 February 2020

Gemma Conroy

Well-Formed Eigenfactor

The biggest citation relationships between journals also reflect some of the biggest rivalries.

Nature and Science cite each other’s papers more than any other journal pairs, at a roughly equal rate. But not all journal citations relationships are as mutually beneficial. PNAS receives more citations from Nature and Science than it gives back, for example.

This clever tree map explores how journals across different fields interact with each other, revealing which journals cite each other the most.

Created by German data visualization specialist, Moritz Stefaner, and Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West from the University of Washington, it’s based on data from roughly 60 million citations across more than 7,000 journals, published in the Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports between 1997 and 2005.

The journals are sized using the Eigenfactor score – a metric invented by Bergstrom and West to measure the number of citations to articles in a given journal over five years.

In the tree map, each square represents a journal, with its size corresponding to its Eigenfactor score. Clicking on a square reveals the citations traffic between the selected journal and other publications.

Nature's network is shown below:

journal citations relationshipsalt

And this is the The Astrophysical Journal's network:

journal citations relationshipsalt

White arrows indicate citations the selected journal accumulates from other publications. Black arrows show which publications the selected journal cites. The size of the arrows corresponds to the amount of citations flowing between each journal.

The top-ranked journals according to their Eigenfactor score are Nature, Science, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and PNAS.

As the tree map shows, Nature exchanges the most citations with Science, followed by Physical Review Letters and PNAS.

Papers published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reference PNAS, Nature, Science, and Cell most often.

But these prominent journals also cite papers in more specialized titles, such as the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics and Statistical Science.

“It's not just a one-way street,” says Stefaner. “There really is this mutual exchange going on, which I found quite beautiful.”

Stefaner says the purpose of the visualization was to communicate the “inherent beauty of the dataset”, with compass needles being a main source of inspiration.

“The design is a bit like magnetic pins with labels everywhere, which makes it very readable,” says Stefaner. “But we also wanted to do something experimental and aesthetically interesting.”

See the full interactive visualization here.

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