The correlation between paper length and citations: a meta-analysis

  • Juan Xie
  • Kaile Gong
  • Ying ChengEmail author
  • Qing Ke


Citation count is a widely used bibliometric indicator. It is influenced by many factors, some of which have been well investigated. This study investigated a more controversial relationship between paper length and citations. After systematic retrieval and selection of literature, we performed a random effects meta-analysis in which 24 effect sizes in 18 original studies were synthesized. The dataset included 1,548,088 papers. Meta-regression and subgroup analysis were used to identify factors moderating the correlation between paper length and citations. Tests of heterogeneity and publication bias were conducted to guarantee reliability, and statistical analysis via computer simulation was used to interpret the results of the heterogeneity test. We observed a moderate, positive correlation between paper length and citations (r = 0.310) from the dataset, and hence concluded that the longer a paper is, the more citations it receives. Citation windows and the perceived quality of journals were found to exert a moderating influence on the correlation.


Paper length Citations Meta-analysis Correlation Meta regression 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Junwu Ye and Dr. Jiang Li for their advice on the English writing. We would also like to express our appreciation for the reviewers’ hard work and helpful suggestions. This research is financially supported by research Grants from the National Social Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 17BTQ014).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information ManagementNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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