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The essence of academic journal publishing is to report research findings and to contribute to the field of knowledge. Journals are the most current channel of dissemination of new ideas, knowledge and breakthroughs in scientific development. Academic journals play a significant role in academic scholarship (Xiao and Smith, 2006). The present study therefore is undertaken on one of the renowned subject specialized academic journals, with the aim of analyzing citations cited in the various articles published therein.
Citation analysis examines bibliographic data from journal articles, monographs, published bibliographies, theses and electronic indexes in order to understand researchers' specific information needs and explain trends in library use. Citations appearing in journals of particular disciplines provide an objective measure of the contributions of other knowledge systems to the development and progress of that particular discipline (Chandy and Williams, 1994). According to Gao , Yu, and Luo ( 2009) librarians have used several different quantitative methods to identify patrons' needs, including circulation and shelving data, the analysis of interlibrary loan requests, as well as citation analysis.
Edward (1999) asserts that citation analysis can be used to determine a core collection of journals critical to local users and representative of the research needs of the collection. Gooden (2001) opines that citation analysis has been used by librarians in various disciplines to eliminate costly, low used/unused journals, purchase needed materials and ascertain core journals needed for patron use, and to reveal the most active research in a particular field. Ching and Chennupati (2002) opines that citation analysis is a form of checklist approach, and basically compares a library's holdings to an authoritative list for the purpose of assessing the quality of all or part of the collection.
Furthermore, Gao et al, (2009) asserts that citation analysis has advantages over the other methods in a number of ways. Firstly, citing a publication may be the best indication of its importance since the citation implies that researchers read the publication and considered it important enough to include as a reference. Secondly, managing a citation study is relatively simple — it can be conducted by a single person. Thirdly, citation studies are reliable, valid, rapid, and economical and the data may be obtained unobtrusively. Fourthly, and perhaps most valuable for an academic librarian is the fact that a citation is a component of the most important product of the academic enterprise.
The Nigerian Journal of Horticultural Science was first published in May, 1990. It is published by the Horticultural Society of Nigeria. The Journal is the primary source for inquiry on horticultural crop production and sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa; it is the key source of information that is consulted by researchers and scholars in horticultural research.
Zhang (2007) analyzed research behavior of US international relations scholars by selecting peer-reviewed journals' citations appearing in articles from the three leading international relations journals published from 2000 to 2005. His findings revealed that books and journals are the overwhelmingly dominant reference sources (86.6%), while the other formats are relatively less utilized in international relations research (13.5%). Kelsey and Diamond (2003) analyzed core journals in the interdisciplinary field of Forestry.
Similarly, Das and Sen (2001) analyzed 1049 citations appended to 34 research articles of Journal of Biosciences; 2000. It was found that out of the total citations, journal articles comprises 85.89% and monographs 10.1%. The report of Koley and Sen (2003) which covered 457 citations from 26 research articles published in the four issues of the quarterly Indian Journal of Physiology and Allied Sciences, also revealed that 76.81% related to journal articles, 18.59% to monographs, while others were conference papers and theses. Likewise the study of Javed and Shah (2008) revealed that 49.52 % citations pertained to journal articles and rest to other resource types. This shows that journals are heavily cited and preferred source of information. Journals are more cited than other literature sources because of the following: Currency of information, high rate of turnover of production, easy accessibility, frequency of production is faster than books and other primary sources.
Haycock (2004) analyzed 4542 citations from forty-three education dissertations completed at the University of Minnesota from 2000 to 2002. His research results were used to guide journal selection, retention, and cancellation decisions and to provide a basis for conversations with the faculty. Omekwu and Atinmo (1998) examined the author and journal citation patterns of Agricultural communication theses at the University of Ibadan. The result of the bibliographical reference of 37 theses studied showed a very significant difference in the citation of Nigerian and non-Nigerian authors, (with non-Nigerian authors cited more than Nigerian authors.) Dulle, F.W, Lwehabura, M. J. F, Matovelo, D.S, and Mulimila, R.T, (2004) analyzed citation pattern of Agricultural scientists in Tanzania, The study involved the analysis of 295 MSc theses and 21 PhD theses submitted at Sokoine University of Agriculture between 1989-1999, and 309 conference proceeding articles published during the same period. The result of the publications analysed, revealed that journals were more highly consulted(44.3% of the total citations), compared to other sources of literature (books-25.1%; proceedings-10.3%; theses- 4,2;% report-5.7% and other sources-10.4%).
Gao, et al. (2009) also analysed 56 PhD theses submitted in 2005 at Wuhan University in China. The authors analyzed 10,222 citations in theses in Library and Information Science, Biology, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and Stomatology and reviewed and compared the characteristics of the literature cited in the four disciplines. Their results revealed an overwhelming emphasis on citations from the journal literature. Edwards (1999) analyzed 5874 citations of doctoral dissertations and masters thesis written at the University of Akron in the area of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering from 1990 to 1996 to determine the characteristics of the materials being cited by graduate students.
Gooden (2001) studied 30 dissertations and generated a total of 3,704 citations. It was found that Journal articles were cited more frequently than monographs: 85.8% of the citations were journal articles and 8.4% of the citations were monographs.