It’s standard practice in research journals for authors to cite previously published articles as a way of either judging or building on earlier research. But how those citations are managed and eventually counted as having an impact on knowledge in advertising is inconsistent. In fact, this author points out an estimated 32 percent of papers published in social science journals—which includes advertising journals—go uncited.
To ensure the integrity of future knowledge, Shelly Rodgers of University of Missouri envisions a set of best practices to ensure that valid research gets cited, noting why this is important for both researchers and practitioners:
- A new set of citation dimensions would help identify a broader body of work to be picked up by search engines and communicated through social media.
- Such measures would have the potential for advertising research to reach new audiences, thereby bridging the gap between academic theory and practice.
Rodgers proposed a framework for approaches that could be used to assessing and choosing citations:
- Proposed measures of citation quality: yardsticks for advertising-research evaluators to consider
- Physical characteristics: the amount of cited material might be an appealing measure of research impact
- Structural characteristics: how the author chooses to engineer the citations (expressing agreement, disagreement, or hedging)
- Locating ‘splintered’ pieces of advertising knowledge: what if the author’s net is not cast wide enough or misses advertising studies?
- Reconsidering “Impact Factor” scores: what gets counted as citable material vs. not. “Academic databases such as ISI Citation Index might not track all forms of research output, such as books and book chapters.”
“With the various measures and approaches being used to evaluate advertising research, introspection on this topic is needed to move us toward a set of best practices,” Rodgers wrote.
“Such steps would help to solidify performance criteria to meet accountability and information demands,” she added. “Attempting to understand and maximize the impact of advertising research is beneficial for academics and practitioners who contribute to and consult premier advertising journals.”
Why do we need a deeper understanding of citations? “It seems logical that authors do make intentional selections of works to cite. The selection of cited materials helps to build a persuasive case to forward new arguments. Thus, one way to view citations is to think of them as persuasive discussions or conversations among authors,” Rodgers, wrote, citing an earlier study on this topic (Hyland, 1998).
“Citations, in this regard are the ‘building blocks that enable informal and formal conversations among authors.”
One final possible approach, Rodgers suggested, includes examining “the ways advertising research influences a wider variety of events and trends in society. This definition considers the combined effects of research findings and the dissemination of these findings through nontraditional outlets, such as social-media posts, press releases, and news articles.”
“This approach would allow us to broaden the definition of advertising research impact to include nonacademic impact along with our traditional evaluations of academic impact.” In addition, this would offer the potential to “open new avenues to demonstrate the value of advertising research beyond the scholarly journal article.”
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