Citation analysis: winner takes all

A small group of papers (1%) often gets a disproportional amount of attention and citations (17%). This pattern has been identified a long time ago (have a look at the Web of Science selection procedure as an example of this trend). A short correspondence by Barabási, Song and Wang published recently in Nature revealed that this pattern only emerges after some time and that those top 1% of papers are not necessarily cited a lot immediately after they emerge. The authors argue that this pattern might be a result of our changing reading habits now that academic publications are so abundant, easily searchable and as a result easily accessible: “Researchers increasingly rely on crowd sourcing to discover relevant work, a process that favours the leading papers at the expense of the remaining 99%”.

Read the full correspondence on the Nature website.

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