Communication: highest impact?

Published work, scholars, and institutions are increasingly measured in terms of “impact,” or the number of citations attracted. The process is similar to what Google does. So which departments have the highest impact in Communication?

Rank    University Number of papers,

Citations per paper

1 University of Wisconsin, Madison 132 2.06
2 University of Michigan 60 1.83
Rutgers University 53 1.83
3 Northwestern University 50 1.82
4 University of Washington 62 1.77
University of Illinois, Urbana 56 1.63

The question (which isn’t answered on the site) is whether they excluded citations from those within the same department. I doubt they did. I wonder what effect this would have on the numbers. In any event, it’s nice to see the old alma not too far from the top.

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  1. Posted 6/21/2003 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There are all sorts of things to keep in mind when looking at such rankings (not that I’m not happy to see my future dept right up there).

    For one thing, I’m assuming the numbers don’t take into consideration the size of these programs. That is, some may have much larger faculties than others. That said, of course for an institution to have a good reputation in some ways it’s fine to count number of citations regardless of number of people.

    Another consideration is types of areas represented. You could have a dept that’s super strong in one or two areas but not in others and so on the aggregate it doesn’t come out looking particulary high-impact even though it may be in some fields.

    Those are just two thoughts that come to mind.

    BTW, another point to make looking at that chart is how incredibly low the overall figures are for citations per paper. Doesn’t that seem quite low? If you look at some of the other fields, they’re much higher (some are lower). Of course, this could have to do with various cultures about citation.

    Interesting, thanks for sharing.

  2. Posted 6/21/2003 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Yes, of course, size does matter. But it’s unclear to me whether it matters directly to the rankings above. ISI also releases a ranking based solely on the number of pubs, and Wisconsin comes out on top there as well, but the rest of the list is fairly different. If this is only a list of citations-per, I can imagine a very small department with a single publication during the period that is *very* well cited, bouncing up to the top. Even so, there are some good reasons for the number of publications to covary, including things like bigger departments have better funding, more visibility, etc..

    As far as the mean # of citations, there are a few things to remember. First, these are only ISI journals, and communication has a *lot* of gray literature. If you look at a list of Sage Journals, for example, only about half in communication are ISI listed. Moreover, if I recall correctly, ISI’s “impact” is measured with an artificial window of a couple of years, so you only have a short window for a citation to “count.” (And even if this is not the case generally, it obviously is for the 2001 articles they list.) Finally, I know there are plenty of articles that are published and are simply never cited.

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