, 89:955 | Cite as

Citation pattern and lifespan: a comparison of discipline, institution, and individual

  • Jacob B. Slyder
  • Beth R. Stein
  • Brent S. Sams
  • David M. Walker
  • B. Jacob Beale
  • Jeffrey J. Feldhaus
  • Carolyn A. CopenheaverEmail author


Citation frequency is often used in hiring and tenure decisions as an indicator of the quality of a researcher’s publications. In this paper, we examine the influence of discipline, institution, journal impact factor, length of article, number of authors, seniority of author, and gender on citation rate of top-cited papers for academic faculty in geography and forestry departments. Self-citation practices and patterns of citation frequency across post-publication lifespan were also examined. Citation rates of the most-highly cited paper for all tenured forestry (N = 122) and geography (N = 91) faculty at Auburn University, Michigan State University, Northern Arizona University, Oklahoma State University, Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Massachusetts, University of Washington, and Virginia Tech were compared. Foresters received significantly more citations than geographers (t = 2.46, P = 0.02) and more senior authors received more citations than junior researchers (r 2 = 0.14, P = 0.03). Articles published in journals with higher impact factors also received more citations (r 2 = 0.28, P = 0.00). The median self-citation rate was 10% and there was no temporal pattern to the frequency of citations received by an individual article (x 2 = 176). Our results stress the importance of only comparing citation rates within a given discipline and confirm the importance of author-seniority and journal rankings as factors that influence citation rate of a given article.


Citation biases Author seniority Co-authorship Article length Citation rates 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob B. Slyder
    • 1
  • Beth R. Stein
    • 2
  • Brent S. Sams
    • 1
  • David M. Walker
    • 2
  • B. Jacob Beale
    • 2
  • Jeffrey J. Feldhaus
    • 2
  • Carolyn A. Copenheaver
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Geography DepartmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest Resources and Environmental ConservationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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