The decline in the concentration of citations, 1900–2007

Authors

  • Vincent Larivière,

    1. Observatoire des sciences et des technologies (OST), Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, Case Postale 8888, succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal (Québec), H3C 3P8, Canada
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  • Yves Gingras,

    1. Observatoire des sciences et des technologies (OST), Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, Case Postale 8888, succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal (Québec), H3C 3P8, Canada
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  • Éric Archambault

    1. Science-Metrix, 1335A avenue du Mont-Royal E, Montréal, Québec, H2J 1Y6, Canada and Observatoire des sciences et des technologies (OST), Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal (Québec), Canada
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Abstract

This article challenges recent research (Evans, 2008) reporting that the concentration of cited scientific literature increases with the online availability of articles and journals. Using Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, the present article analyses changes in the concentration of citations received (2- and 5-year citation windows) by papers published between 1900 and 2005. Three measures of concentration are used: the percentage of papers that received at least one citation (cited papers); the percentage of papers needed to account for 20%, 50%, and 80% of the citations; and the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI). These measures are used for four broad disciplines: natural sciences and engineering, medical fields, social sciences, and the humanities. All these measures converge and show that, contrary to what was reported by Evans, the dispersion of citations is actually increasing.

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