Methods for Measuring the Citations and Productivity of Scientists Across Time and Discipline

Physical Review, Vol. 81, 2010

25 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011

See all articles by Alexander Michael Petersen

Alexander Michael Petersen

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program

Fengzhong Wang

Boston University

H. Eugene Stanley

Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies

Date Written: March 24, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Matthew Effect, Citations, Productivity, Career Achievement, Success

JEL Classification: D39, J24, J44

Suggested Citation

Petersen, Alexander Michael and Wang, Fengzhong and Stanley, H. Eugene, Methods for Measuring the Citations and Productivity of Scientists Across Time and Discipline (March 24, 2010). Physical Review, Vol. 81, 2010 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1889392

Alexander Michael Petersen (Contact Author)

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program ( email )

School of Engineering
Science & Engineering 2, Suite 315
Merced, CA 95343
United States

Fengzhong Wang

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

H. Eugene Stanley

Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies ( email )

Boston, MA 02215
United States

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