Five Get Over Excited: Academic papers that cite quantixed posts

Anyone that maintains a website is happy that people out there are interested enough to visit. Web traffic is one thing, but I take greatest pleasure in seeing quantixed posts being cited in academic papers.

I love the fact that some posts on here have been cited in the literature more than some of my actual papers.

It’s difficult to track citations to web resources. This is partly my fault, I think it is possible to register posts so that they have a DOI, but I have not done this and so tracking is a difficult task. Websites are part of what is known as the grey literature: items that are not part of traditional academic publishing.

The most common route for me to discover that a post has been cited is when I actually read the paper. There are four examples that spring to mind: here, here, here and here. With these papers, I read the paper and was surprised to find quantixed cited in the bibliography.

Vanity and curiosity made me wonder if there were other citations I didn’t know about. A cited reference search in Web of Science pulled up two more: here and here.

A bit of Googling revealed yet more citations, e.g. two quantixed posts are cited in this book. And another citation here.

OK so quantixed is not going to win any “highly cited” prizes or develop a huge H-index (if something like that existed for websites). But I’m pleased that 1) there are this many citations given that there’s a bias against citing web resources, and 2) the content here has been useful to others, particularly for academic work.

All of these citations are to posts looking at impact factors, metrics and publication lag times. In terms of readership, these posts get sustained traffic, but currently the most popular posts on quantixed are the “how to” guides, LaTeX to Word and Back seeing the most traffic. Somewhere in between citation and web traffic are cases when quantixed posts get written about elsewhere, e.g. in a feature in Nature by Kendall Powell.

The post title comes from “Five Get Over Excited” by The Housemartins. A band with a great eye for song titles, it can be found on the album “The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death”.

Where You Come From: blog visitor stats

It’s been a while since I did some navel-gazing about who reads this blog and where they come from. This week, quantixed is close to 25K views and there was a burst of people viewing an old post, which made me look again at the visitor statistics.

Where do the readers of quantixed come from?
map

Well, geographically they come from all around the world. The number of visitors from each country is probably related to: population of scientists and geographical spread of science people on Twitter (see below). USA is in the lead, followed by UK, Germany, Canada, France, Spain, Australia, etc.

Where do they click from? This is pretty interesting. Most people come here from Twitter (45%), around 20% come via a search on Google (mainly looking for eLife’s Impact Factor) and another ~20% come from the blog Scholarly Kitchen(!). Around 3% come from Facebook, which is pretty neat since I don’t have a profile and presumably people are linking to quantixed on there. 1% come from people clicking links that have been emailed to them – I also value these hits a lot. I guess these links are sent to people who don’t do any social media, but somebody thought the recipient should read something on quantixed. I get a few hits from blogs and sites where we’ve linked to each other. The remainder are a long list of single clicks from a wide variety of pages.

What do they read?

The traffic is telling me that quantixed doesn’t have “readers”. I think most people are one-time visitors, or at least occasional visitors. I do know which posts are popular:

  1. Strange Things
  2. Wrong Number
  3. Advice for New PIs
  4. Publication lag times I and II
  5. Violin plots
  6. Principal Component Analysis

Just like my papers, I’ve found it difficult to predict what will be interesting to lots of people. Posts that took a long time to prepare and were the most fun to think about, have received hardly any views. The PCA post is most surprising, because I thought no-one would be interested in that!

I thoroughly enjoy writing quantixed and I really value the feedback that I get from people I talk to offline about it. I’m constantly amazed who has read something on here. The question that they always ask is “how do you find the time?”. And I always answer, “I don’t”. What I mean is I don’t really have the free time to write this blog. Between the lab, home life, sleep and cycling, there is no time for this at all. The analyses you see on here take only three hours or less. If anything looks tougher than this, I drop it. If draft posts aren’t interesting enough to get finished, they get canned. Writing the blog is a nice change from writing papers, grants and admin. So I don’t feel it detracts from work. One aim was to improve my programming through fun analyses; and I’ve definitely learnt a lot about that. The early posts on coding are pretty cringe-worthy. I also wanted to improve my writing which is still a bit dry and scientific…

My favourite type of remark is when people tell me about something that they’ve read on here, not realising that I actually write this blog! Anyway, whoever you are, wherever you come from; I hope you enjoy quantixed. If you read something here and like it, please leave a comment, tweet a link or email it to a friend. The encouragement is appreciated.

The post title is taken from “Where You Come From” by Pantera. This was a difficult one to pick, but this song had the most apt title, at least.

Belly Button Window

A bit of navel gazing for this post. Since moving the blog to wordpress.com in the summer, it recently accrued 5000 views. Time to analyse what people are reading…

blogstatsThe most popular post on the blog (by a long way) is “Strange Things“, a post about the eLife impact factor (2824 views). The next most popular is a post about a Twitter H-index, with 498 views. The Strange Things post has accounted for ~50% of views since it went live (bottom plot) and this fraction seems to be creeping up. More new content is needed to change this situation.

I enjoy putting blog posts together and love the discussion that follows from my posts. It’s also been nice when people have told me that they read my blog and enjoy my posts. One thing I didn’t expect was the way that people can take away very different messages from the same post. I don’t know why I found this surprising, since this often happens with our scientific papers! Actually, in the same way as our papers, the most popular posts are not the ones that I would say are the best.

Wet Wet Wet: I have thought about deleting the Strange Things post, since it isn’t really what I want this blog to be about. An analogy here is the Scottish pop-soul outfit Wet Wet Wet who released a dreadful cover of The Troggs’ “Love is All Around” in 1994. In the end, the band deleted the single in the hope of redemption, or so they said. Given that the song had been at number one for 15 weeks, the damage was already done. I think the same applies here, so the post will stay.

Directing Traffic: Most people coming to the blog are clicking on links on Twitter. A smaller number come via other blogs which feature links to my posts. A very small number come to the blog via a Google search. Google has changed the way it formats the clicks and so most of the time it is not possible to know what people were searching for. For those that I can see, the only search term is… yes, you’ve guessed it: “elife impact factor”.

Methods: WordPress stats are available for blog owners via URL formatting. All you need is your API key and (obviously) your blog address.

Instructions are found at http://stats.wordpress.com/csv.php

A basic URL format would be: http://stats.wordpress.com/csv.php?api_key=yourapikey&blog_uri=yourblogaddress replacing yourapikey with your API key (this can be retrieved at https://apikey.wordpress.com) and yourblogaddress with your blog address e.g. quantixed.wordpress.com

Various options are available from the first page to get the stats in which you are  interested. For example, the following can be appended to the second URL to get a breakdown of views by post title for the past year:

&table=postviews&days=365&limit=-1

The format can be csv, json or xml depending on how your preference for what you want to do next with the information.

The title is from “Belly Button Window” by Jimi Hendrix, a posthumous release on the Cry of Love LP.