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  • 1 Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante, Spain
  • | 2 Departamento de Economía Cuantitativa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • | 3 Departamento de Economía, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  • | 4 Departamento de Economía, Universidad Carlos III & Research Associate of the CEPR Project SCIFI-GLOW, Madrid, Spain
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Abstract

This paper studies evidence from Thomson Scientific (TS) about the citation process of 3.7 million articles published in the period 1998–2002 in 219 Web of Science (WoS) categories, or sub-fields. Reference and citation distributions have very different characteristics across sub-fields. However, when analyzed with the Characteristic Scores and Scales (CSS) technique, which is replication and scale invariant, the shape of these distributions over three broad categories of articles appears strikingly similar. Reference distributions are mildly skewed, but citation distributions with a 5-year citation window are highly skewed: the mean is 20 points above the median, while 9–10% of all articles in the upper tail account for about 44% of all citations. The aggregation of sub-fields into disciplines and fields according to several aggregation schemes preserve this feature of citation distributions. It should be noted that when we look into subsets of articles within the lower and upper tails of citation distributions the universality partially breaks down. On the other hand, for 140 of the 219 sub-fields the existence of a power law cannot be rejected. However, contrary to what is generally believed, at the sub-field level the scaling parameter is above 3.5 most of the time, and power laws are relatively small: on average, they represent 2% of all articles and account for 13.5% of all citations. The results of the aggregation into disciplines and fields reveal that power law algebra is a subtle phenomenon.

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Scientometrics
Language English
Size B5
Year of
Foundation
1978
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
12
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
Founder's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 0138-9130 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2861 (Online)