Visualizing Arts and Humanities Citation Index
:: Almila Akdag Salah :: Loet Leydesdorff :: Cheng Gao :: Krzysztof Suchecki :: Andrea Scharnhorst :: Paul Wouters ::

"Scientometrics" or "bibliometrics" is a research venue specialized in evaluating growth, relations and interactions in scientific fields with the help of citation data collected above all from journal papers. Scientometrics is traced back to the beginnings of 1900s, but the more official start can be settled to 1964, when Eugene Garfield founded Institute for Scientific Information. From 80"s on, the research in this area accelerated with the advancement of computers and various combinations of statistical methods used to extract and evaluate information such as citations, cocitations with reference of various bibliometric data. The end-results are usually rendered as so-called "citation networks" which are a variation of social networks. Now it is a common practice to evaluate a scholar or a journal according to how many times it/he/she is cited.

The publication of the Science Citation Index (1963)[1] was followed by the Social Science Citation Index (1973)[2] and by the Arts and Humanities citation index (1978)[1]. These databases were provided by the Institute for Scientific Information; nowadays they are available as part of the Web of Knowledge, a set of online bibliographic databases provided by Thomson-Reuters. Meanwhile other database providers such as Scopus or Spires provides information about journals based on the principle of citation indexing. Originally designed for information retrieval, bibliographic databases became the heart of quantitative studies of science revealing pattern in the collective production of knowledge. With the growth of the science system and its increasingly important role in the knowledge-based economy databases, bibliographic databases were increasingly used for evaluative purposes. One of the most well known and at the same time controversial examples is the journal impact factor.

All bibliometric or scientometric approaches assume the so-called "literary model of science": important mechanisms of scientific production become visible in the written products (publications) of the sciences. The existing large scale "Citation Indices" are based on journals - a subset of publications. The validity of insights into mechanisms of scholarly practices gained from these databases depends strongly on the importance of journal-based communication in different fields of scholarly communication. Eugene Garfield was the first person to underline some obvious differences in citation behavior among humanities scholars. Books are of special importance, time scales of recognition can be rather long, and diversity of languages plays a particular role.

These obvious differences call for caution for any evaluative use of citation indices in the arts and humanities, adding an additional layer of precaution to already justified warnings against an overuse or abuse of quantitative evaluation in the natural and social sciences. At the same time, the value of these databases for information retrieval and for systematic insights in areas of humanities and arts that use journals in their communication remains unbroken. This website is prepared to contribute to this value, by visualizing the citation environment of journals in Arts & Humanities Citation Index of ISI (2008). The best way to navigate through this site is to start with the METHOD page where you can find a quick introduction to bibliometrics terminology while learning about how we have collected and processed the raw data for the visualizations. Alternatively (only if you are already familiar with citation networks) you can visit the JOURNALS page first, where you will find two maps for each journal, i.e. one for the citing and one for the cited environment.

[1] Wouters, Paul. Citation Culture, Amsterdam 1999. Online available at:
[2] Garfield, Eugene. The Social Sciences Citation Index - More Than a Tool, Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:2, p.241-244,
1974-76. Current Contents, #12, p.6-9, March 24, 1975. Online available at:
[3] About the announcement of the AHCI and the motivation to build it please read: Eugene Garfield: Will ISI’s Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Revolutionize Scholarship?
in Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:3, p.204-208, 1977-78     Current Contents, #32, p.5-9, August 8, 1977. Online available at: