Blind men and elephants: What do citation summaries tell us about a research article?


The old Asian legend about the blind men and the elephant comes to mind when looking at how different authors of scientific papers describe a piece of related prior work. It turns out that different citations to the same paper often focus on different aspects of that paper and that neither provides a full description of its full set of contributions. In this paper we will describe our investigation of this phenomenon. We studied citation summaries in the context of research papers in the biomedical domain. A citation summary is the set of citing sentences for a given article and can be used as a surrogate for the actual article in a variety of scenarios. It contains information that was deemed by peers to be important. Our study shows that citation summaries overlap to some extent with the abstracts of the papers and that they also differ from them in that they focus on different aspects of these papers than the abstracts do. In addition to this, co-cited articles (which are pairs of articles cited by another article) tend to be similar. We show results based on a lexical similarity metric called cohesion to justify our claims.

DOI: 10.1002/asi.20707

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@article{Elkiss2008BlindMA, title={Blind men and elephants: What do citation summaries tell us about a research article?}, author={Aaron Elkiss and Siwei Shen and Anthony Fader and G{\"{u}nes Erkan and David J. States and Dragomir R. Radev}, journal={JASIST}, year={2008}, volume={59}, pages={51-62} }