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Fractional counting of citations in research evaluation: 
An option for cross- and interdisciplinary assessments

In the case of the scientometric evaluation of multi- or interdisciplinary
units one risks to compare apples with oranges: each paper has to assessed
in comparison to an appropriate reference set. We suggest that the set of
citing papers first can be considered as the relevant representation of the
field of impact. In order to normalize for differences in citation behavior
among fields, citations can be fractionally counted proportionately to the
length of the reference lists in the citing papers. This new method enables
us to compare among units with different disciplinary affiliations at the
paper level and also to assess the statistical significance of differences
among sets. Twenty-seven departments of the Tsinghua University in Beijing
are thus compared. Among them, the Department of Chinese Language and
Linguistics is upgraded from the 19th to the second position in the ranking.
The overall impact of 19 of the 27 departments is not significantly
different at the 5% level when thus normalized for different citation

Ping Zhou & Loet Leydesdorff

Preprint version available at: 
** apologies for cross-postings

Loet Leydesdorff 
Professor, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), 
Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam. 
Tel.: +31-20- 525 6598; fax: +31-842239111
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