Blind men and elephants: What do citation summaries tell us about a research article?
Article first published online: 18 OCT 2007
Copyright © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Volume 59, Issue 1, pages 51–62, 1 January 2008
How to Cite
Elkiss, A., Shen, S., Fader, A., Erkan, G., States, D. and Radev, D. (2008), Blind men and elephants: What do citation summaries tell us about a research article?. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 59: 51–62. doi: 10.1002/asi.20707
- Issue published online: 18 DEC 2007
- Article first published online: 18 OCT 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 MAY 2007
- Manuscript Revised: 3 MAY 2007
- Manuscript Received: 29 NOV 2006
The old Asian legend about the blind men and the elephant comes to mind when looking at how different authors of scientific papers describe a piece of related prior work. It turns out that different citations to the same paper often focus on different aspects of that paper and that neither provides a full description of its full set of contributions. In this article, we will describe our investigation of this phenomenon. We studied citation summaries in the context of research papers in the biomedical domain. A citation summary is the set of citing sentences for a given article and can be used as a surrogate for the actual article in a variety of scenarios. It contains information that was deemed by peers to be important. Our study shows that citation summaries overlap to some extent with the abstracts of the papers and that they also differ from them in that they focus on different aspects of these papers than do the abstracts. In addition to this, co-cited articles (which are pairs of articles cited by another article) tend to be similar. We show results based on a lexical similarity metric called cohesion to justify our claims.