Forward search path count as an alternative indirect citation impact indicator

Xiaorui Jiang, Hai Zhuge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Main path analysis is a popular method for extracting the backbone of scientific evolution from a (paper) citation network. The first and core step of main path analysis, called search path counting, is to weight citation arcs by the number of scientific influence paths from old to new papers. Search path counting shows high potential in scientific impact evaluation due to its semantic similarity to the meaning of scientific impact indicator, i.e. how many papers are influenced to what extent. In addition, the algorithmic idea of search path counting also resembles many known indirect citation impact indicators. Inspired by the above observations, this paper presents the FSPC (Forward Search Path Count) framework as an alternative scientific impact indicator based on indirect citations. Two critical assumptions are made to ensure the effectiveness of FSPC. First, knowledge decay is introduced to weight scientific influence paths in decreasing order of length. Second, path capping is introduced to mimic human literature search and citing behavior. By experiments on two well-studied datasets against two carefully created gold standard sets of papers, we have demonstrated that FSPC is able to achieve surprisingly good performance in not only recognizing high-impact papers but also identifying undercited papers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100977
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Informetrics
Issue number4
Early online date6 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Scientific ranking
  • Search path count
  • Indirect citation impact indicator
  • Undercited publications


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