Pathfinder networks and author cocitation analysis: A remapping of paradigmatic information scientists



In their 1998 article “Visualizing a discipline: An author cocitation analysis of information science, 1972–1995,” White and McCain used multidimensional scaling, hierarchical clustering, and factor analysis to display the specialty groupings of 120 highly-cited (“paradigmatic”) information scientists. These statistical techniques are traditional in author cocitation analysis (ACA). It is shown here that a newer technique, Pathfinder Networks (PFNETs), has considerable advantages for ACA. In PFNETs, nodes represent authors, and explicit links represent weighted paths between nodes, the weights in this case being cocitation counts. The links can be drawn to exclude all but the single highest counts for author pairs, which reduces a network of authors to only the most salient relationships. When these are mapped, dominant authors can be defined as those with relatively many links to other authors (i.e., high degree centrality). Links between authors and dominant authors define specialties, and links between dominant authors connect specialties into a discipline. Maps are made with one rather than several computer routines and in one rather than many computer passes. Also, PFNETs can, and should, be generated from matrices of raw counts rather than Pearson correlations, which removes a computational step associated with traditional ACA. White and McCain's raw data from 1998 are remapped as a PFNET. It is shown that the specialty groupings correspond closely to those seen in the factor analysis of the 1998 article. Because PFNETs are fast to compute, they are used in AuthorLink, a new Web-based system that creates live interfaces for cocited author retrieval on the fly.