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  • 1 The Florida State University Tallahassee Florida (USA) Tallahassee Florida (USA)
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Citation patterns of 400 very highly cited scientific papers are identified and the relationship of citation patterns to literature aging rates is investigated. Standardized citation counts for 1972 through 1980 are used as variables in a cluster analysis which groups papers with similar citation patterns and a discriminant analysis is used to refine the descriptions of clusters and to confirm the results. Among highly cited papers published in 1972, two basic citation patterns are identified: one group is highly cited in the first years following publication and declines in citedness thereafter; the second group reaches its citation peak in the sixth year following publication and declines in citedness in the seventh, eighth, and ninth years of the series. Both groups show general evidence of aging.Price's suggestion that less highly cited papers age more rapidly than more highly cited papers is confirmed.