Main path analysis on cyclic citation networks

Xiaorui Jiang, Xinghao Zhu, Jingqiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Main path analysis is a famous network‐based method for understanding the evolution of a scientific domain. Most existing methods have two steps, weighting citation arcs based on search path counting and exploring main paths in a greedy fashion, with the assumption that citation networks are acyclic. The only available proposal that avoids manual cycle removal is to preprint transform a cyclic network to an acyclic counterpart. Through a detailed discussion about the issues concerning this approach, especially deriving the “de‐preprinted” main paths for the original network, this article proposes an alternative solution with two‐fold contributions. Based on the argument that a publication cannot influence itself through a citation cycle, the SimSPC algorithm is proposed to weight citation arcs by counting simple search paths. A set of algorithms are further proposed for main path exploration and extraction directly from cyclic networks based on a novel data structure main path tree. The experiments on two cyclic citation networks demonstrate the usefulness of the alternative solution. In the meanwhile, experiments show that publications in strongly connected components may sit on the turning points of main path networks, which signifies the necessity of a systematic way of dealing with citation cycles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-595
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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