Citations as a measure of technological impact: A review of forward citation-based measures

The number of forward citations a patent receives accumulates over time and appears to be correlated to the patent‘s (i.e. invention’s) technological impact. A dominant theory suggests that highly cited patents contain an important technological advance. However, a variety of citation based measures have been proposed by different authors. This study, via a narrative literature review, identified nine forward citation-based measures that appear of particular relevance. We describe each measure and present them in a comparative format.

The measures are divided into two broad categories: firstly the ones that are particularly relevant to the patent level (citation index, forward citation frequency, generality, influence), and secondly the ones that are relevant to the patent portfolio level (current impact index, herfindal-hirschman index, hindrance index, relative patent position, technology strength).

We hope research scholars and industrial users find this review helpful for citation analysis and intellectual property analytics, especially when wanting to employ forward citation-based measures to assess technological impact.


Published in World Patent Information, Vol. 53, pp. 39-44.