Thursday, September 04, 2008

First mover advantage in citation process

A new paper by M. E. J Newman from University of Michigan

"Mathematical models of the scientific citation process predict a strong “first-mover” effect under which the first papers in a field will, essentially regardless of content, receive citations at a rate enormously higher than papers published later. Moreover papers are expected to retain this advantage in perpetuity—they should receive more citations indefinitely, no matter how many other papers are published after them. We test this conjecture against data from a selection of fields and in several cases find a first-mover effect of a magnitude similar to that predicted by the theory.
Were we wearing our cynical hat today, we might say that the scientist who wants to become
famous is better off—by a wide margin—writing a modest paper in next year’s hottest field than
an outstanding paper in this year’s. On the other hand, there are some papers, albeit only a small
fraction, that buck the trend and attract significantly more citations than theory predicts despite
having relatively late publication dates. We suggest that papers of this kind, though they often
receive comparatively few citations overall, are probably worthy of our attention" pdf via Michael Nielsen

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