Related records retrieval and pennant retrieval: an exploratory case study

AKBULUT M., Tonta Y., White H. D.

SCIENTOMETRICS, vol.122, no.2, pp.957-987, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 122 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11192-019-03303-9
  • Journal Name: SCIENTOMETRICS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, FRANCIS, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, BIOSIS, CINAHL, Computer & Applied Sciences, Index Islamicus, Information Science and Technology Abstracts, INSPEC, Library and Information Science Abstracts, PAIS International, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, Sociological abstracts, zbMATH, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA)
  • Page Numbers: pp.957-987
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The Related Records feature in the Web of Science retrieves records that share at least one item in their reference lists with the references of a seed record. This search method, known as bibliographic coupling, does not always yield topically relevant results. Our exploratory case study asks: How do retrievals of the type used in pennant diagrams compare with retrievals through Related Records? Pennants are two-dimensional visualizations of documents co-cited with a seed paper. In them, the well-known tf*idf (term frequency*inverse document frequency) formula is used to weight the co-citation counts. The weights have psychological interpretations from relevance theory; given the seed, tf predicts a co-cited document's cognitive effects on the user, and idf predicts the user's relative ease in relating its title to the seed's title. We chose two seed papers from information science, one with only two references and the other with 20, and used them to retrieve 50 documents per method in WoS for each of our two seeds. We illustrate with pennant diagrams. Pennant retrieval indeed produced more relevant documents, especially for the paper with only two references, and it produced mostly different ones. Related Records performed almost as well on the paper with the longer reference list, improving remarkably as the coupling units between the seed and other papers increased. We argue that relevance rankings based on co-citation, with pennant-style weighting as an option, would be a desirable addition to WoS and similar databases.