, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 711–719 | Cite as

Citation behavior in popular scientific papers: what is behind obscure citations? The case of ethnobotany

  • Marcelo Alves Ramos
  • Joabe Gomes Melo
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque


Citation studies have become an important tool for understanding scientific communication processes, as they enable the identification of several characteristics of information-retrieval behavior. This study seeks to analyze citation behavior using two popular ethnobotany articles, and our analysis is guided by the following question: when an author references a work, is he pointing out the work’s theoretical contribution, or is bias a factor in citing this reference? Citation analysis reveals an interesting phenomenon, as the majority of citing texts do not consider the theoretical contributions made by the articles cited. Two possible conclusions can be drawn from this scenario: (1) citing authors read the original texts that they cite only superficially, and (2) the works cited are not read by the vast majority of people who reference them. Thus, it is clear that even with sufficient access to reference texts; ethnobotanical studies highlight elements less relevant to the research and reproduce discussions in a non-reflective manner.


Citation analysis Scientometrics Scientific quality 



The authors thank the Programa Nacional de Pós Doutorado (PNPD) of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and the Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco (FACEPE), by grants for postdoctoral awarded to M. A. Ramos and J. G. Melo, respectively; and also to the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for productivity grant awarded to U. P. Albuquerque.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Alves Ramos
    • 1
  • Joabe Gomes Melo
    • 1
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Etnobotânica Aplicada, Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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