Abstract: Predicting Article Influence in Health Communication Research: An Exploratory Analysis of Health Communication and Journal of Health Communication

◆ Thomas Feeley, University at Buffalo
◆ Zhuohui Yang, University at Buffalo

A common proxy for article influence is the number of times a paper has been referenced in academic citation databases (e.g., Web of Science). This process is commonly known as citing information in bibliometrics. To investigate article in influence in health communication, citation counts were extracted in fall 2019 from Google Scholar (GS) for 1,613 research articles published in Health Communication (HC) and Journal of Health Communication (JHC) for two 5-year cohorts (2002-2006, 2012-2016). Information was taken from each periodical’s database and each title was searched in GS for its corresponding citing information. The number of articles in HC was 692 and the journal increased the number of articles it publishes significantly between cohorts (e.g., 22 articles in 2002, 156 in 2016). Similarly, JHC published 933 over the same time span and increased the number of articles from 63 in 2006 to 115 in 2012). Article titles, information on first authors (sex, affiliation), and relevant descriptive information (year of study, journal) were indexed and compared to citation counts. The average influence was 37.86 (SD = 58.49) citations, however there was positive skew and high kurtosis indicating the majority of articles had few citations (Median = 20, Mode = 8). The number citing articles ranged from 0 to 779 and citations for 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile were 10, 20, and 41 respectively. The majority of first authors were female (67%) and after controlling for year of study, there was no evidence of male or female authors being disproportionately cited (i.e., the Matilda Effect). When comparing cohorts, it appears the proportion of authors coded as female increased over time from 58% to 70%. Article citations did not differ by journal indicating parity between the two journals. The university affiliations credited with the most first-author articles was Purdue (31), The Ohio State (28), Michigan State (27), Pennsylvania State (25), and University of Kentucky (23). Trends in author sex, author affiliation, and article topics will be discussed in relation to article influence data over time. These findings indicate the field of health communication is a burgeoning area with diverse forms of scholarship on varied health topics.