The decline in the concentration of citations, 1900–2007

Larivière, V., Gingras, Y., and Archambault, É. (2009). The decline in the concentration of citations, 1900–2007. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), 60(4), 858–862.


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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