Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

Citation context analysis for information retrieval

Anna Ritchie

March 2009, 119 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted June 2008 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, New Hall.


This thesis investigates taking words from around citations to scientific papers in order to create an enhanced document representation for improved information retrieval. This method parallels how anchor text is commonly used in Web retrieval. In previous work, words from citing documents have been used as an alternative representation of the cited document but no previous experiment has combined them with a full-text document representation and measured effectiveness in a large scale evaluation.

The contributions of this thesis are twofold: firstly, we present a novel document representation, along with experiments to measure its effect on retrieval effectiveness, and, secondly, we document the construction of a new, realistic test collection of scientific research papers, with references (in the bibliography) and their associated citations (in the running text of the paper) automatically annotated. Our experiments show that the citation-enhanced document representation increases retrieval effectiveness across a range of standard retrieval models and evaluation measures.

In Chapter 2, we give the background to our work, discussing the various areas from which we draw together ideas: information retrieval, particularly link structure analysis and anchor text indexing, and bibliometrics, in particular citation analysis. We show that there is a close relatedness of ideas between these areas but that these ideas have not been fully explored experimentally. Chapter 3 discusses the test collection paradigm for evaluation of information retrieval systems and describes how and why we built our test collection. In Chapter 4 we introduce the ACL Anthology, the archive of computational linguistics papers that our test collection is centred around. The archive contains the most prominent publications since the beginning of the field in the early 1960s, consisting of one journal plus conferences and workshops, resulting in over 10,000 papers. Chapter 5 describes how the PDF papers are prepared for our experiments, including identification of references and citations in the papers, once converted to plain text, and extraction of citation information to an XML database. Chapter 6 presents our experiments: we show that adding citation terms to the full-text of the papers improves retrieval effectiveness by up to 7.4%, that weighting citation terms higher relative to paper terms increases the improvement and that varying the context from which citation terms are taken has a significant effect on retrieval effectiveness. Our main hypothesis that citation terms enhance a full-text representation of scientific papers is thus proven.

There are some limitations to these experiments. The relevance judgements in our test collection are incomplete but we have experimentally verified that the test collection is, nevertheless, a useful evaluation tool. Using the Lemur toolkit constrained the method that we used to weight citation terms; we would like to experiment with a more realistic implementation of term weighting. Our experiments with different citation contexts did not conclude an optimal citation context; we would like to extend the scope of our investigation. Now that our test collection exists, we can address these issues in our experiments and leave the door open for more extensive experimentation.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Ritchie, Anna},
  title = 	 {{Citation context analysis for information retrieval}},
  year = 	 2009,
  month = 	 mar,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-744}