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Abstract

In this study, reference standards and reference multipliers are suggested as a means to compare the citation impact of earlier research publications in physics (from the period of “Little Science” in the early 20th century) with that of contemporary papers (from the period of “Big Science,” beginning around 1960). For the development of time-specific reference standards, the authors determined (a) the mean citation rates of papers in selected physics journals as well as (b) the mean citation rates of all papers in physics published in 1900 (Little Science) and in 2000 (Big Science); this was accomplished by relying on the processes of field-specific standardization in bibliometry. For the sake of developing reference multipliers with which the citation impact of earlier papers can be adjusted to the citation impact of contemporary papers, they combined the reference standards calculated for 1900 and 2000 into their ratio. The use of reference multipliers is demonstrated by means of two examples involving the time adjusted h index values for Max Planck and Albert Einstein.