Bibliometric analysis of Estonian folklore research and folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore.
The research areas in Estonia that are most often considered to have a strong impact on the world based on their citations per publication are molecular biology and genetics (18th in the world on the Essential Science Indicator), environment/ ecology (15th on the ESI), and plant and animal science (12th on the ESI). Overall the level on Estonian research is a small miracle considering Estonia's size and history (Allik 2015). But what is not known is that there is an area of research where Estonia is at world level--and it is an area not visible in either ESI or Journal Citation Reports because it is an area in arts and humanities.
The humanitarian researchers in Estonia are skeptical about bibliometrics and how or if it can display their impact on a local or on a larger scale, and for the most part this is true (Allik 2012). It is no secret that the humanities with their publishing and citation practices are largely different from most of the other research areas in science and for this they are not ideal for bibliometrical comparisons or analysis. The citation tradition in the humanities is not as strong as it is in science. An art historian may not formally cite such works as Guernica or Mona Lisa. A literary critic would not cite Shakespeare every time he mentions Hamlet (Garfield 1980a). The citations to articles are slow to grow and in many subfields of the humanities articles do not even have any great impact (because of the book-oriented nature of the fields) (Stern 1983). Also most of the research done in the humanities are with localized conceptions, meaning that linguistic studies on Estonian or Finnish will be published in Estonian or Finnish for Estonian or Finnish readers and researchers.
But there is still a remarkable amount of documents on arts and humanities in the Web of Science Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) and this data is bibliometrically analyzable and actually quite interesting (Ho et al. 2015, Konur 2012).
The following paper tries to answer these questions: How does an Estonian folklore researcher compare with its neighbors and with the whole world? What kind of impact has the Estonian folklore journal The Electronic Journal of Folklore (EJoF) had and how has it changed the area in Estonia?
To measure, compare and visualize the area of folklore in Estonia, 100 documents published from 2005-2014 and 73 documents published from 2010-2014 indexed in the Web of Science (WoS) Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) were analyzed. For comparison with Estonia, Finland was naturally chosen because of its neighboring location and its similar culture to Estonia. Also Latvia, Sweden, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales in total) and the United States of America were chosen because of their location to Estonia and their history and their role in the area of folklore. The analysis on the journal the Estonian Electronic Journal of Folklore (EJoF) was made by using data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection (WoS) Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), Journal Citation Report (JCP), Scopus, and SCImago. To compare the impact of EJoF to a Finnish journal FF Communications was chosen since it has published the most cited and important work in folklore (Aarne, Stith 1928). Folk Life--Journal of Ethnological Studies from the United Kingdom, Folklore, the journal for the Folklore Society of England, which is one of the earliest English-language journals in the area of folkloristics, first published in 1879 and the Journal of Folklore Research from the Indiana University in the United States of America were chosen. The analysis was done in InCites (InCites is a customized, web-based research evaluation tool that allows users to analyze institutional productivity and benchmark research output against peers worldwide) during the last week (23-29) of November 2015.
3. Results and discussions
3.1. The research area of folklore in Estonia
When looking at the research that was done in Estonia from 2010-2014 in WoS research evaluation tool InCites nothing unusual can be seen at first. Most active were environmental researchers with 503 documents (folklore was 84th with 73 documents). Most cited were the areas of genetics & heredity (10 448) and physics (10 318) with folklore being 210th with 16 citations. And with Citation Impact (Average (mean) number of citations per paper) the areas in the top were similar (physics--59.33; genetics & heredity--31.65) and folklore was at the 232th place with 0.22. Such low Citation Impact of publications in folklore probably indicates an independent research topic and a wide disparity in research focuses (Ho et al. 2015).
The average impact (citations per item) of all papers published by some country is certainly a more meaningful indicator of scientific quality than a mere number of published papers (Allik 2013).
But there are indicators that show folklore in the top part of the table and this indicator is Average Percentile. The percentile of a publication is determined by creating a citation frequency distribution for all the publications in the same year, subject category and of the same document type (arranging the papers in descending order of citation count), and determining the percentage of papers at each level of citation, i.e., the percentage of papers cited more often than the paper of interest. A percentile indicates how a paper has performed relative to others in its field, year and document type and is therefore a normalized indicator. The Average Percentile can apply to any set of papers, such as an author's body of work, all the publications in a journal or the accumulated publications of an institution, country or region (InCites Indicators Handbook 2014). The average percentile of folklore in Estonia is 86.42 and it is 14th in Estonia. And this is because Incites sorts the data in a descending order and with Average Percentile the smaller number is better.
By other indicators folklore is not visible in the top part of the table. As it becomes clear, folklore in Estonia is not practically visible amongst other areas of research but both its impact and activity is actually as high as its neighbors' or even higher (Table 1).
These numbers above show the similarities and dissimilarities of folklore between these countries. As it can be seen, the United States of America is way ahead of everybody because of its mass. Like with all research, out of the three Baltic states only Estonia managed to do both, increase substantially the number of publications along with their average impact (Allik 2013). But to bring this data into a bigger context the data from all over the world should be looked at. Table 2 shows the indicators by which Estonia is in the top 10 in the world of folklore from 2010-2014.
As it can be seen, Estonia is not the first in any of the indicators but it should be noted that Estonia is the only country who has both a high productivity and also a high number of citations. Countries like Argentina, Greece, and South Africa have a higher impact because they have a small number of documents but their low number of citations is somewhat higher relative to the document number, so considering that Estonia has both a high number of documents and a high number of cites the impact of Estonia is remarkably high. Even if there is doubt over the individual indicators and how they can show the level of Estonian folklore research, the overall fact that we are in most (important) of the top 10 tables should show a high level of research in the area of folklore.
The different types of documents published by Estonian researchers from 2010-2014 can be seen in Table 3. Article is the most common form of document type.
An interesting fact is that the high place amongst other countries is not because of highly cited papers, since only one of the most cited papers in folklore by Estonian researchers is from 2010-2014:
Valk, U. Ghostly possession and real estate: The dead in contemporary Estonian folklore. Journal of Folklore Research. 2006. Vol. 43 No. 1 P. 31- + (cited 5 times)
Leete, A, Vallikivi, L. Imitating Enemies or Friends Comparative Notes on Christianity in the Indigenous Russian Arctic during the Early Soviet Period. Asian Ethnology. 2011. Vol. 70 No. 1 P. 81-104 (cited 4 times)
Johanson, K. The changing meaning of "thunderbolts" Folklore-Electronic Journal of Folklore. 2009. No. 1 P. 129-174 (cited 3 times)
This implicates that the Estonian research in folklore had citations before the last five years. So what can be seen if the data from the last ten years would be analyzed?
Similar to the papers published in Estonia from 2010-2014 the same thing is with 2005-2014. Folklore is not a top research area in Estonia by any indicator but the following tables (Tables 4, 5) show the indicators by which Estonia is in the top 10 in the world of folklore from 2005-2014.
Interestingly, Estonia has had a high level of citations and document numbers from 2005-2014. But these two tables also show that the impact the Estonian researchers had from 2005-2014 is lower and not even in the world top 10 (Citation Impact--0.31 and 20th in the world; Impact Relative to World--0.038 and 20th in the world) from the impact from 2010-2014. This strongly implicates that something has happened that has pushed the impact to new heights for the last five years.
The number of citations and the number of publications has had a steady rise since 2008 and the lower numbers from 2005-2007 pull the 10-year impact down (Fig. 1). The citation numbers for 2013 and 2014 are low because citations in folklore as in all areas in the arts and humanities take time to aggregate. So what happened in 2008? This is the year when WoS A&HCI started indexing the Estonian folklore journal the Electronic Journal of Folklore.
3.2. The Electronic Journal of Folklore
A journal impact analysis is one way for a journal to gauge its contribution to an area using quantitative measures. Although it is not possible to definitively capture all variables associated with a journal's impact, using a variety of tools we can create a reasonable approximation of its role and standing in the scholarly community (Behles 2014).
Most (65.3% out of 104 documents from 1998-2014) of the papers by Estonian folklore researchers is published in the Electronic Journal of Folklore (EJoF). EJoF is indexed both in WoS (Arts & Humanities Citation Index) (from 2008) and in Scopus (from 2012). The journals in Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) do not have an Impact Factor (IF) provided by the Journal Citation Report (JCR). This makes comparison harder but not impossible. For journal-level metrics Scopus uses the portal SCImago which allows to compare journals quite easily.
JCR provides quantifiable statistical data about journal titles and enables users to sort data by various fields such as the journal impact factor and cited half-life (ISI 1994). However, it was realized that citation characteristics of the arts and humanities journal articles were quite different from those of sciences and social sciences and this is why JCRs for A&HCI has never materialized (Al, et al. 2006). But the IF for journals in A&HCI could still be calculated and for the comparison of journals in this paper this calculation was made.
To get the IF for the journals not in JCR a calculation should be made based on the data from WoS. For the comparison of journals in this review, IF for 2014 was calculated by dividing the number of citations in 2014 to articles published in 2012 and 2013 by the number of publications in 2012 and 2013. The same formula was used to calculate the IF for 2013 and 2012. Table 6 shows the IF of selected folklore journals in 2014, 2013 and 2012.
From Table 6 it is clear why IF for journals in the A&HCI is not calculated. The numbers are very low or they just are not there. From these numbers it is also clear that the EJoF has an IF that is not very high considering some of the other journals. On the other hand, most of these journals have a long history in both being published and indexed in the A&HCI and EJoF is quite new (Table 7). This implicates that the impact of EJoF is evident. Relying on the impact factor alone, however, is not sufficient to situate any journal in this field.
For journal evaluation Scopus uses SCImago Journal Rank (SJR). SJR (score) is weighted by the prestige of a journal. Subject field, quality, and reputation of the journal have a direct effect on the value of a citation. Apart from JCR and IF SJR is calculated for all journals indexed in Scopus (Guerrero-Bote, et al. 2012)
In SJR Folklore (Estonia) (the name of EJoF in Scopus) is based in two categories: Anthropology and Cultural Studies. In 2014 Folklore (Estonia) was in the second quartile in the Culture Studies category and in third quartile in Anthropology. The Quartile in Category or the Quartile Score, on the other hand, shows the relative location of a journal along the range of an SJR distribution. In Anthropology the third quartile means 190th place out of 276 journals and in Culture Studies the second quartile means 330th place out of 689 journals. It should be noted that in 2013 Folklore (Estonia) was in the fourth quartile in both of these categories. So a visible rise has occurred.
Table 8 indicates that since it was first indexed in Scopus, EJoF has made a mark in all indicators in a very short time. As in WoS EJoF has a better SJR (IF in WoS) than the Finnish journal FF Communication and it is catching up with journals that have been indexed for much longer then EJoF.
These journal-level metrics display only what the documents or citations sum up to and how they relate to other journals. For core knowledge about a journal the documents and citations must be analyzed to see if the journal is used and cited locally or internationally. As mentioned at the start of the paper, the humanities and folklore as a part of them have a very localized use.
3.3. Articles and authors in the Electronic Journal of Folklore
Table 7 demonstrates that by the end of 2014 there were 305 publications from EJoF in WoS, which were cited 39 times. The average citation per publication was 0.12 and h-index was 2. Figure 2 shows that there is a clear rising trend in EJoF citations.
The most common document type in WoS from 2010-2014 was Article (Table 9). Articles were also the type with the highest impact per publication. The same thing occured with the documents that were published by Estonian researchers from 2010-2014 (Table 3). The impact of EJoF is much lower than other journals but one peculiar fact is that other journals have published much more book reviews in them (Folklore, Journal for the Folklore Society of England --56.44% out of 1788; Journal of Folklore Research--22% out of 640). This indicates that folklore is very similar to other fields in the arts and humanities in general where book reviews are a considerable means of scholarly communication (Lindholm-Romantschuk, et al. 1996).
The author of this paper is not sure if this choice of publishing more articles was intentional or not, but it has certainly been an advantages since the articles seem to have a bigger impact.
Contributing authors to EJoF documents in WoS originate most often from Estonia (68), Finland (24), Russia (18), Norway (8), England (8), and USA (7). All together, EJoF has authors from 37 countries.
Figure 3 illustrates the impact that sometimes the research published from other countries seem to have a higher impact then the research published from Estonia. This implicates that EJoF is not just an Estonian journal for Estonian researchers. Besides this the citations to Latvian and British documents are not coming just from Estonian or Latvian or British journals - they are international citations from different areas, and not just folklore.
One way to decide if a journal is internationally orientated is to look at the percentile of international collaboration. Since InCites do not have the indicator for international collaboration for A&HCI journals, this must be calculated by the number of contributing countries. Of course the author of a document can be from Estonia just working or studying in another country.
The 45 citations to EJoF came from 37 articles. Out of 37 articles, 8 were from Estonia, 2 from USA, 2 from Russia, and 2 from Finland. The most often citing journals other than EJoF were the Journal of Baltic Studies (3) and FF Communications (2).
Table 10 shows that EJoF is one of the most international sources with the majority of citations not coming from Estonia. Indeed, the numbers that some of these percentiles are taken from are fairly small, but if not this then what implicates more clearly the international scope of a journal in an area that is not analyzable? And this can apply also to other areas in the arts and humanities.
The impact of EJoF has not only been evident in folklore. The 37 articles cited by EJoF are not only from the area of folklore. Actually only 35% (13) of them were from folklore. The other areas from citations came from: area studies (10% - 4), archaeology (8% - 3), biology (5% - 2), and zoology (5% - 2), altogether from 32 different areas of research in the arts and humanities and also in science. This means that EJoF has a growing impact outside of the immediate area of study.
The most contributing authors are Ventsel, A. (15), Voolaid, P. (9), Leete, A (9) and Koiva, M. (9). The number of citations and the impact of the most contributing authors are visualized in Figure 4.
The most cited paper in EJoF with three cites is Johanson, K. The changing meaning of "thunderbolts " that was published in 2009. All the citations are self-citations from EJoF.
Self-citation can be an issue and it keeps coming up from time to time since sometimes journals use it to boost their impact factors. But self-citation is a natural thing that occurs in all journals disregarding the research area. Given the cumulative nature of the production of new knowledge, self-citations constitute a natural part of the communication process (Costas et al. 2010).
Among all journals listed in the 2010 JCR Science Edition, for example, 85% have self-citation rates of less than 15% (Testa 2012).
By the end of 2014 EJoF had been cited 45 times with 10 being self-citations (22.3%). This number of citations is not relevant compared to other journals review in this paper (Table 11).
It is easy to get lost in huge numbers and forget everything else. Large numbers of citations and WoS documents attract attention and admiration yet in many cases they do not show the full potential and impact of a researcher, researcher's area, institution or a country. Sometimes looking into the subject inside its own area or peers may paint a totally different picture. Smaller areas of research deserve also notification since they are analyzable.
Folklore in Estonia and in the world is microscopic amongst the wide specter of research areas and invisible by most of the popular indicators. Yet researchers are working and publishing and their papers have an impact on the area. History (Yalcin 2010, Behles 2014) and present have proven that bibliometrics can be used to measure the area of folklore and other areas in the field of arts and humanities.
This paper has answered the questions raised at the beginning. Estonian folklore researchers are very active compared to their neighbors and they are remarkably visible amongst other big research countries from all over the world. The impact of the works published in Estonia is also comparable to other countries. Considering its size, Estonia and its folklore researchers have had global level numbers in all indicators in the last five years. The Electronic Journal of Folklore has had the main role in bringing Estonia to this level. It publishes works from authors all over the world and receives citations from all over the world. Its impact is still small considering other journals in this paper but the rise to the place at the moment has been quick and if it continues on a mission to be more than a local journal there is no question that its impact will rise even more.
These results confirm that EJoF is becoming a leading influential journal in the area; they also suggest that EJoF has disproportionate strength in the area given its smaller size and recent rise to the A&HCI in comparison to other journals (Behles 2014).
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Table 1. Comparison of Estonia, Finland, England and USA in the areas of folklore (2010-2014) Country Web of Category Times Citation Science Normalized Cited Imapact Documents Citation Impact ESTONIA 73 1.08 16 0.22 UK 242 0.94 25 0.10 FINLAND 35 0.43 2 0.06 SWEDEN 19 3.13 4 0.21 LATVIA 5 * 0.00 1 0.20 LITHUANIA 4 ** 0.00 0 0.00 USA 853 1.81 157 0.18 WORLD 4543 0.85 498 0.11 Country Average % Impact Percentile Documents Relative to in Top World 10% ESTONIA 86.42 5.48% 0.045 UK 92.26 4.12% 0.022 FINLAND 94.90 2.86% 0.012 SWEDEN 80.69 15.79% 0.045 LATVIA 100.00 0.00% 0.000 LITHUANIA 0.00 0.00% 0.000 USA 89.83 7.03% 0.039 WORLD 94.51 3.17% 0.023 * All published in the Estonian journal Electronic Journal of Folklore ** 50 % published in the Estonian journal Electronic Journal of Folklore Table 2. The top 10 in the world from 2010-2014 Web of Times Science Cited Documents USA 853 USA 157 TURKEY 372 GERMANY 26 (FED REP GER) GERMANY 196 ENGLAND 19 (FED REP GER) ENGLAND 158 TURKEY 18 SPAIN 133 ESTONIA 16 AUSTRIA 119 AUSTRIA 11 ESTONIA 73 SPAIN 11 SWITZERLAND 64 NETHERLANDS 7 BELGIUM 57 CANADA 7 SCOTLAND 48 FRANCE 6 Impact Category Relative to Normalized World *(2) Citation Impact SOUTH 0.107 NORWAY 4.09 AFRICA ARGENTINA 0.107 SWEDEN 3.13 GREECE 0.071 SOUTH AFRICA 2.57 NEW ZEALAND 0.071 ARGENTINA 2.43 RUSSIA 0.059 USA 1.81 ICELAND 0.058 ICELAND 1.61 FRANCE 0.053 RUSSIA 1.59 NORWAY 0.049 FRANCE 1.52 ESTONIA 0.047 GREECE 1.39 SWEDEN 0.045 ESTONIA 1.08 Citation Impact *(1) SOUTH 0.5 AFRICA ARGENTINA 0.5 GREECE 0.33 NEW ZEALAND 0.33 RUSSIA 0.28 ICELAND 0.27 FRANCE 0.25 NORWAY 0.23 ESTONIA 0.22 SWEDEN 0.21 *(1) Citation impact (citations per paper) normalized for subject, year and document type (Incites Indicators Handbook. 2014). *(2) Impact Relative to World indicator is the ratio of the Citation Impact of a set of documents divided by the world Citation Impact for a given period of time (InCites Indicators Handbook. 2014). Table 3. Document types and average citation per document of folklore documents in WoS by Estonian researchers from 2010-2014 Article Book Editorial review material Number of documents 49 17 4 % of 73 67.123% 23.288% 5.479% CPP 0.37 0 0.25 News Proceedings Book idem paper chapter Number of documents 3 2 1 % of 73 4.110% 2.740% 1.370% CPP 0 0 0 Table 4. Number of Web of Science documents 2005-2014 Web of Science Documents 1. USA 1687 2. TURKEY 532 3. GERMANY (FED REP GER) 308 4. ENGLAND 298 5. SPAIN 250 6. AUSTRIA 243 7. SWITZERLAND 101 8. ESTONIA 100 9. BELGIUM 94 10. CANADA 88 Table 5. Number of times cited 2005-2014 Times Cited 1. USA 740 2. ENGLAND 82 3. GERMANY (FED REP GER) 73 4. TURKEY 40 5. NETHERLANDS 37 6. SPAIN 37 7. CANADA 35 8. ESTONIA 31 9. FRANCE 19 10. SWITZERLAND 19 Table 6. Impact Factor of folklore journals from 2012-2014 Journal IF in 2012 IF in 2013 IF in 2014 FF Communications 0 0 0 Folklore, The Journal for the 0.077 0.064 0.068 Folklore Society of England The Journal of Folklore 0.172 0.153 0.346 Research Folk Life--Journal of Ethnological Studies from 0 0 0 United Kingdom Electronic Journal of Folklore 0.035 0.049 0.035 Table 7. Folklore journals and their history in WoS until 2014 Journal First Number of Number of publication publication citations in WoS FF Communications 1980 199 5 Folklore, The Journal 1980 1788 1232 for the Folklore Society of England The Journal of 1983 640 1136 Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal 2005 103 5 of Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Electronic Journal 2008 305 39 of Folklore Journal CPP h-index Journal Normalized citation Impact *(1) FF Communications 0.02 1 0.06 Folklore, The Journal 0.68 11 0.49 for the Folklore Society of England The Journal of 1.77 13 0.76 Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal 0.04 1 0.29 of Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Electronic Journal 0.12 2 0.57 of Folklore Journal Category % Docs Normalized Cited citation Impact *(2) FF Communications 0.08 2% Folklore, The Journal 1.20 23% for the Folklore Society of England The Journal of 2.26 45% Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal 0.72 5% of Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Electronic Journal 0.59 10% of Folklore *(1) The Journal Normalized Citation Impact (JNCI) indicator is a similar indicator to the Normalized Citation Impact, but instead of normalizing per subject area or field, it normalizes the citation rate for the journal in which the document is publishing. *(2) Citation impact (citations per paper) normalized for category, year and document type. Table 8. Folklore journals and their history in Scopus and SCImago to 2014 Journal First Number of Number of publication publication citations in Scopus FF Communications 2002 66 11 Folklore (United Kingdom) 1980 335 773 (Folklore, The Journal for the Folklore Society of England) The Journal of 2002 189 397 Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal of 2002 109 49 Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Folklore (Estonia) 2012 112 14 (Electronic Journal of Folklore) Journal CPP h-index SJR 2012 FF Communications 0.166 2 0.106 Folklore (United Kingdom) 2.307 12 0.16 (Folklore, The Journal for the Folklore Society of England) The Journal of 2.100 9 0.177 Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal of 0.449 3 0.133 Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Folklore (Estonia) 0.125 2 0 (Electronic Journal of Folklore) Journal SJR 2013 SJR 2014 FF Communications 0.126 0.101 Folklore (United Kingdom) 0.123 0.139 (Folklore, The Journal for the Folklore Society of England) The Journal of 0.168 0.15 Folklore Research Folk Life--Journal of 0.101 0.159 Ethnological Studies from United Kingdom Folklore (Estonia) 0.101 0.125 (Electronic Journal of Folklore) Table 9. Document types and average citation per document in WoS of EJoF Article News Book Editorial idem review material Number of 165 62 49 17 documents % of 867 54.09% 20.32% 16.06% 5.57% CPP 0.24 0.06 0 0,06 Proceedings Biographical Review Letter paper item Number of 11 8 3 1 documents % of 867 3.60% 2.62% 0.98% 0.32% CPP 0 0 0 0 Table 10. Percentile of publications from the countries of folklore and the origin of their citations until 2014 Journal Country % of documents % of citing from origin articles from country origin country FF Communications Finland 5% 0% Folklore, The Journal England 21% 17% for the Folklore Society of England The Journal of Folklore USA 66% 50% Research Folk Life--Journal of United 32% * 40% Ethnological Studies Kingdom from United Kingdom Electronic Journal of Estonia 22% 29% Folklore * England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined Table 11. Self-citations to documents published until 2014 Journal % of self-citation FF Communications 0% Folklore, The Journal for the 22.4% Folklore Society of England The Journal of Folklore Research 9.9% Folk Life--Journal of Ethnological 40% Studies from United Kingdom Electronic Journal of Folklore 22.3% Figure 1. Estonian folklore research from 2005-2014. #OF PUB #OF CITES 2005 3 1 2006 5 3 2007 2 1 2008 5 2 2009 14 6 2010 7 1 2011 11 6 2012 14 8 2013 20 1 2014 21 0 Note: Table made from line graph. Figure 3. Number of documents, number of cites to the documents and the impact of the countries contributing to EJoF 2008-2014. # of doc # of cites Impact ESTONIA 19 0.28 FINLAND 3 0.12 RUSSIA 5 0.28 NORWAY 0 0 ENGLAND 3 0.38 USA 1 0.14 SWEDEN 0 0 LATVIA 6 2 0.33 BULGARIA 0 0 ISRAEL 1 0.25 Note: Table made from bar graph.
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