Monday, October 27, 2008

The most heavily cited archaeology articles

Here is a list of the most heavily cited journal articles published by archaeologists (the numbers indicate the number of citations):

464 Binford, Lewis R. (1980) Willow Smoke and Dog's Tails: Hunter-Gatherer Settlement Systems and Archaeological Site Formation. American Antiquity 45:4-20.

385 Binford, Lewis R. (1962) Archaeology as Anthropology. American Antiquity 28:217-225.

354 Renfrew, Colin (1987) Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins (book review feature). Current Anthropology 29:437-468. (book review feature)

182 Wiessner, Polly (1983) Style and Social Information in Kalahari San Projectile Points. American Antiquity 48:253-276.

172 Bender, Barbara (1978) Hunter-Gatherer to Farmer: A Social Perspective. World Archaeology 10:204-222.

172 Clark, R. M. (1975) A Calibration Curve for Radiocarbon Dates. Antiquity 49:251-266.

154 Schiffer, Michael B. (1972) Archaeological Context and Systemic Context. American Antiquity 37:156-165.

153 Childe, V. Gordon (1950) The Urban Revolution. Town Planning Review 21:3-17.

132 Anderson, Atholl (1991) The Chonology of Colonization in New Zealand. Antiquity 65:767-795.

132 Anthony, David W. (1990) Migration in Archaeology: The Baby and the Bathwater. American Anthropologist 92:895-914.

118 Ammerman, Albert J. and L. L. Cavalli-Sforza (1971) Measuring the Rate of Spread in Man 6:674-688.

115 Brumfiel, Elizabeth M. (1992) Breaking and Entering the Ecosystem: Gender, Class, and Faction Steal the Show. American Anthropologist 94:551-567.

111 DeMarrais, Elizabeth, Luis Jaime Castillo and Timothy Earle (1996) Ideology, Materialization, and Power Strategies. Current Anthropology 37:15-31.

111 Clarke, David L. (1973) Archaeology: The Loss of Innocence. Antiquity 47:6-18.

These were compiled from data in Google Scholar, using the (free) software called "Harzing's Publish or Perish." I am not a bibliometrician (yes, there is such a term) and I don't claim that this list is definitive. "Publish or Perish" allows searching by individual names (try Michael Smith, ha ha ha, I'm less prolific than it would suggest), by keywords, and by journals. I just searched the major archaeology journals and compiled the top citations.

I started doing this becuase I am writing an article about V. Gordon Childe's seminal article, "The Urban Revolution." Although published in a non-archaeology journal (see citation above), this is the eighth-most heavily cited journal article by an archaeologist, and it tops the list of articles about complex societies. This is remarkable. Why is this paper so influential? Well, you will just have to wait till I publish my paper. (The short answer is that: (1) Childe basically created our modern understanding of the origins of complex societies, and almost all subsequent work built on his model; and (2) the article was published in a venue widely visible to non-archaeologists).

Some references:
Harzing, Anne-Wil
2008 Google Scholar: A New Data Source for Citation Analysis. (online article).

Nehlo, L.I. and K. Yang
n.d. A New Era in Citation and Bibliometric Analyses: Web of Science, Scopus, and Googld Scholar. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology in press.

Kosmopoulos, Christine and Denise Pumain
2008 Citation, Citation, Citation: Bibliometrics, the web and the Social Sciences and Humanities. Cybergeo: European Journal of Geography (article 411). .


Jill said...

Since I found your blog last week, I have been intrigued with the notion of what it means to be "most cited". I just now remember reading an article or editorial in Science (?) about the misuse of such data. Anyway, I was on the website of Chicago's journals and noticed that they have begun noting the "most cited" and "most accessed" articles on the homepage of each journal. Not surprisingly, the most accessed correspond with articles that have been in the news (e.g. David Wengrow's "commodity branding" in Current Anth). These are, to my mind, quite interesting and thought provoking, but somewhat speculative, articles. On the other hand, the most cited were much more particular in scope and, presumably, audience. I'm not sure where this fits with your Childe theory, but it seems to me this could be the result of your succeeding post - misuse of sources. The particular articles seem more relevant to data reference and are easier to cite - even without reading! The "accessed" are fun to read but more difficult to apply without a full, careful reading.

Michael E. Smith said...

Citation data are probably misused more than they are used correctly. Most sources of these data are heavily biased in various ways, and for a discplined like archaeology (split between humanities, sciences, and social sciences) it is hard to get good data. This is a BIG can of worms, especially as university bean-counters turn increasingly to such data to evaluate faculty.

In this case, I am just using the data to get a general idea of what is cited often, and to suggest that it is remarkable that Childe (1950) is still heavily cited.