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Abstract

Radicchi, Fortunato, and Castellano (2008) claim that, apart from a scaling factor, all fields of science are characterized by the same citation distribution. We present a large-scale validation study of this universality-of-citation-distributions claim. Our analysis shows that claiming citation distributions to be universal for all fields of science is not warranted. Although many fields indeed seem to have fairly similar citation distributions, there are exceptions as well. We also briefly discuss the consequences of our findings for the measurement of scientific impact using citation-based bibliometric indicators.