, 88:199 | Cite as

Revisiting citation aging: a model for citation distribution and life-cycle prediction

  • Hamid BouabidEmail author


The study of citation distribution provides retrospective and prospective picture of the evolving impact of a corpus of publications on knowledge community. All distribution models agree on the rise of the number of citations in the first years following the publication to reach a peak and then tend to be less cited when time passes. However, questions such as how long it will continue being cited and what is objectively the rate of the decline remain unanswered. Built up of simple polynomial function, the proposed model is proven to be suitable to represent the observed citation distribution over time and to interestingly identify with accuracy when the major loss of citations happens. I calculate from the model the ‘residual citations’ representing the citations kept after a long time period after publication year. I demonstrate that the residual citations may be greater than or equal to zero, meaning that the ‘life-cycle’ of the corpus is infinite, contrary to what some researches termed to be around 21 years. This model fits the observed data from SCI according to R-sq which is greater than 98.9%. Rather, it is very simple and easy to implement and can be used by not highly-skilled scientometric users. Finally, the model serves as a citation predictive tool for a corpus by determining the citations that would obtain at any time of its life-cycle.


Citation distribution Observed citations Citation aging Model Life-cycle Life-time ISI-data OECD-countries Citation-prediction 



The author is grateful to the anonymous referees for the very critical and valuable remarks leading to substantial improvements of the initial version of the paper. The author is also grateful to Dr. Elhamine S. for his help in data computing.


  1. Avramescu, A. (1979). Actuality and obsolescence of scientific literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science (pre-1986), 30(5), 296–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouabid, H., & Martin, B. R. (2009). Evaluation of Moroccan research using a bibliometric-based approach: Investigation of the validity of the h-index. Scientometrics, 78(2), 203–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burrell, Q. L. (2002). The nth-citation distribution and obsolescence. Scientometrics, 53(3), 309–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burrell, Q. L. (2003). Predicting future citation behavior. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(5), 372–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Egghe, L., & Ravichandra Rao, I. K. (1992). Citation age data and the obsolescence function: Fits and explanations. Information and Processing Management, 28(2), 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Egghe, L., & Rousseau, R. (2000a). The influence of publication delays on the observed aging distribution of scientific literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51(2), 158–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Egghe, L., & Rousseau, R. (2000b). Aging, obsolescence, impact, growth, and utilization: Definitions and relations. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51(11), 1004–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Glänzel, W. (2004). Towards a model for diachronous and synchronous citation analyses. Scientometrics, 60(3), 511–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Glänzel, W. (2007). Characteristic scores and scales. A bibliometric analysis of subject characteristics based on long-term citation observation. Informetrics, 1(1), 29–102.Google Scholar
  10. MacRoberts, M. H., & MacRoberts, B. R. (1989). Problems of citation analysis: A critical review. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 40(5), 342–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mingers, J., & Burrell, Q. L. (2006). Modeling citation behavior in management science journals. Information Processing and Management, 42, 1451–1464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nadarajah, S., & Kotz, S. (2007). Models for citation behaviour. Scientometrics, 72(2), 291–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nakamoto, H. (1988). Synchronous and dyachronous citation distributions. In L. Egghe & R. Rousseau (Eds.), Informetrics 87/88 (pp. 157–163). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Narin, F., & Hamilton, K. S. (1996). Bibliometric performance measures. Scientometrics, 36(3), 293–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. OECD. (2006). Science, technology and industry outlook 2006. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Osareh, F., & Wilson, C. S. (1997). Third World countries (TWC) research publications by disciplines: A country by country citation analysis. Scientometrics, 39(3), 253–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pollmann, T. (2000). Forgetting and the aging of scientific publication. Scientometrics, 47(1), 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Redner, S. (2004). Citation statistics for more than a century of physical review. Physics Today, 58(6), 49–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Simkin, M. V., & Roychowdhury, V. P. (2007). A mathematical theory of citing. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(11), 1661–1673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Stinson, E. R., & Lancaster, F. W. (1987). Synchronous versus diachronous methods in the measurement of obsolescence by citation studies. Journal of Information Science, 13, 65–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. van Raan, A. F. J. (2004). Sleeping beauties in science. Scientometrics, 59, 467–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wallance, M. L., Larivière, V., & Gingras, Y. (2009). Modeling a century of citations distributions. Journal of Informetrics, 3(4), 296–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yu, G., Guo, R., & Li, Y. J. (2006). The influence of publication delays on three ISI indicators. Scientometrics, 69(3), 511–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yu, G., & Li, Y.-. J. (2010). Identification of referencing and citation processes of scientific journals based on the citation distribution model. Scientometrics, 82, 249–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Ibn TofailKenitraMorocco

Personalised recommendations