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Methods for measuring the citations and productivity of scientists across time and discipline

Petersen, Alexander M. and Wang, Fengzhong and Stanley, H. Eugene Methods for measuring the citations and productivity of scientists across time and discipline. Physical Review E, 81 (3). 036114. ISSN 1539-3755 (2010)

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Publication statistics are ubiquitous in the ratings of scientific achievement, with citation counts and paper tallies factoring into an individual’s consideration for postdoctoral positions, junior faculty, and tenure. Citation statistics are designed to quantify individual career achievement, both at the level of a single publication, and over an individual’s entire career. While some academic careers are defined by a few significant papers (possibly out of many), other academic careers are defined by the cumulative contribution made by the author’s publications to the body of science. Several metrics have been formulated to quantify an individual’s publication career, yet none of these metrics account for the collaboration group size, and the time dependence of citation counts. In this paper we normalize publication metrics in order to achieve a universal framework for analyzing and comparing scientific achievement across both time and discipline. We study the publication careers of individual authors over the 50-year period 1958–2008 within six high-impact journals: CELL, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), Physical Review Letters (PRL), and Science. Using the normalized metrics (i) “citation shares” to quantify scientific success, and (ii) “paper shares” to quantify scientific productivity, we compare the career achievement of individual authors within each journal, where each journal represents a local arena for competition. We uncover quantifiable statistical regularity in the probability density function of scientific achievement in all journals analyzed, which suggests that a fundamental driving force underlying scientific achievement is the competitive nature of scientific advancement.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1103/PhysRevE.81.036114
Additional Information: © 2010 American Physical Society
Uncontrolled Keywords: PACS: 89.90.+n, 01.85.+f, 02.50.-r, 01.75.+m
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Depositing User: Alexander Petersen
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2011 09:21
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2014 15:30
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/269

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