, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 1445–1459 | Cite as

Assessing obliteration by incorporation in a full-text database: JSTOR, Economics, and the concept of “bounded rationality”

  • Katherine W. McCain


To evaluate the usefulness of a full-text database as a source for assessing obliteration by incorporation (OBI), 3,707 article records including the catchphrases “bounded rationality” and/or “boundedly rational” (connected with the work of H. A. Simon) in the article text were retrieved from JSTOR, a full-text database with broad disciplinary coverage. Two subsets were analyzed—a 10 % systematic sample of all records and a set of all articles in Economics journals (with the addition of the Journal of Economic Theory). A majority of articles in the 10 % sample came from Economics and Management journals, while Psychology was poorly represented. In the 10 % sample, based on the percentage of true implicit citations between 1992 and 2009 in the 80 % of records that had a catchphrase in the body of the article, rather than just in the reference list, annual OBI ranged from 0 to 70 % (mean 33 %) with no discernible trend. The Economics articles showed a narrower range of OBI—fluctuating around 40 % implicit citations over the same time period. In both data sets, a large proportion of indirect citations were to sources that themselves cited a relevant work by Simon. Over 90 % of the articles in both the 10 % sample and the economics journal set would not have been retrieved with a database record search because they lacked the catchphrase in the record fields.


Obliteration by incorporation Economics Full-text databases Citation-in-context analysis 



Some results from this study were presented at Metrics 2012: Workshop on Informetric and Scientometric Research (SIG MET) at the 2012 ASIST Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD and at ISSI 2013 in Vienna, Austria. I thank the workshop and conference participants for helpful comments and suggestions. I thank Dr. Roger A. McCain, Professor, School of Economics, Drexel University for providing insights into the role of game theory and Simon’s notions of bounded rationality in Economics. I remain responsible for errors and omissions.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Computing & InformaticsDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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