Why (almost) Everything We Know About Citations is Wrong: Evidence from Authors

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Why (almost) Everything We Know About Citations is Wrong: Evidence from Authors

Type: Article in monograph or in proceedings
Title: Why (almost) Everything We Know About Citations is Wrong: Evidence from Authors
Author: Teplitskiy M.Duede E.Menietti M.Lakhani K.
Journal Title: STI 2018 Conference Proceedings
Start Page: 1488
End Page: 1492
Publisher: Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)
Issue Date: 2018-09-11
Keywords: Scientometrics
Abstract: Although citations and related metrics like the H-index are widely used in academia to evaluate research and allocate resources, the referencing decisions on which they are based are poorly understood. In particular, it is unclear whether authors reference works that influenced them most -- the ""normative” view -- or those they believe the readers will value most -- the ""social constructivist"" view. We present data from a survey of thousands of authors of scientific articles in which we asked them about specific references they have made. We find that authors (1) know the content of the papers they cite less well when the references are famous and (2) are influenced (per-capita) equally by highly and sparsely cited works. An experiment in which authors were asked about references with and without signals of the references’ `status’ (e.g., how highly cited the reference is), we find that positive correlations between citations and perceptions of the quality of a paper, like its validity or significance, are explained entirely by status signals. These findings are inconsistent with the normative view and support the social constructivist view, requiring a radical reassessment of the role of citation in scientific practice.
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/65227
 

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