Bibliographic coupling and hierarchical clustering for the validation and improvement of subject-classification schemes

Bart Thijs, Lin Zhang, Wolfgang Glänzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


An attempt is made to cluster journals from the complete Web of Science database by using bibliographic coupling similarities. Since the sparseness of the underlying similarity matrix proved inappropriate for this exercise, second-order similarities have been used. Only 0.12 % out of 8282 journals had to be removed from the classification as being singletons. The quality at three hierarchical levels with 6, 14 and 24 clusters substantiated the applicability of this method. Cluster labelling was made on the basis of the about 70 subfields of the Leuven–Budapest subject-classification scheme that also allowed the comparison with the existing two-level journal classification system developed in Leuven. The further comparison with the 22 field classification system of the Essential Science Indicators does, however, reveal larger deviations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-1467
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015



  • Bibliographic coupling
  • Journal clustering
  • Second order similarities
  • Subject classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences

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