Non-traditional references to my work – and why they’re important
If someone wants to see how many times my work has been referenced, they’d probably go and look at my citation statistics, for example on my Google Scholar profile. At the time of writing, that shows that I have 16 citations overall, and a h-index of 2. However, I don’t think this tells the whole story.
Specifically, it only counts references to academic papers, books or conference proceedings (‘traditionally-citable items’), and it doesn’t take into account the far wider use of some of these items beyond traditional citations in other papers, books or conference proceedings. This misses out a lot of uses of my work – many of which are uses that I think are actually important (possibly more important than citations in other academic work).
(Please note that I’m not trying to point to other non-traditional references because I feel that my citation count is “too low”, and I’m also not trying to say that a mention of my website URL is equivalent of a citation of my paper in another journal article – but I think these things should be taken into account, and it is hard to do so at the moment).
Anyway, I’ve been doing some investigation into some of the other uses of my work – mostly using various Google and Google Scholar searches – and I’ve found a lot of non-traditional references, some of which I didn’t know about before. For example:
- Py6S (my Python interface to the 6S Radiative Transfer Model) was mentioned (but not cited) in a book (Remote Sensing Raster Processing) and used by the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility for checking their data (they also recommend it to their users)
- RTWTools (my set of extensions for ENVI) has been used in three journal articles (including in Global and Planetary Change and Remote Sensing), a government report, and a MSc thesis
- VanHOzone (my, very simple, implementation of the van Heuklon ozone model) has been used in a MSc thesis
- My proposal for CITATION files for scientific software has gained a remarkable amount of traction, and was cited in the Force 11 Software Citation Working Group report, and multiple arXiv pre-prints. The idea even spread via Twitter with the hastag #citationfile. Most importantly though, many projects have created CITATION files, including such well-known projects as Software Carpentry, astropy, and Galaxy.
- My digitisation of John Snow’s 1854 cholera map has seen wide use. A few selected uses include: a Guardian DataBlog article, multiple journal articles/preprints, and in the tutorials for multiple pieces of software.
- Finally, my FreeGISData website has been referenced a lot, in at least six journal articles, four books or book chapters (including one non-academic book), a couple of subject magazines, two PhD theses and at least one MOOC course.
A full list of non-traditional references to my work is available here, but I hope you’ll agree that – although they are not traditional references in traditional academic works – these uses and applications of my work are important, and show a real impact – often beyond the academic community.