, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 459–486 | Cite as

Gaining scientific recognition by position: Does editorship increase citation rates?

  • Lydia L. Lange
  • P. A. Frensch


We investigated three rival hypotheses concerning scientific communication and recognition: the performance hypothesis and two alternative assumptions, the reputation hypothesis and the resource hypothesis. The performance hypothesis reflects the norm of universalism in the sense given byMerton, the reputation hypothesis predicts a Matthew Effect (scientists receive communications and recognition on the basis of their reputation), and the resource hypothesis assumes that communication with other scientitis is used as a form of asset to defend one's own research results.

Using bibliometric methods, we assessed whether assuming an important scientific position enhances scientific impact and prestige. Specifically, we explored whether a person's assumption of editorship responsibilities of a psychology journal increases the frequency with which that person is cited in theSocial Sciences Citation Index. The data base consisted of ten psychology journals, seven premier American and three German journals, covering the years 1981 to 1995. Citation rates for the years prior to, during, and following periods of editorship were compared for three groups: editors cited in the journal they edited, editors cited in a journal they did not edit, and non-editors. The results showed that during their editorship, editors showed an increased citation rate in the journal edited; this result was found for American journals, but not for German journals. These findings indicate that, for American journals, assuming editorship responsibilities for a major psychology journal increases one's scientific impact, at least as reflected by a measure of citation rate. A careful examination of ages of the non-editors' citations reveals that the post-editorship citation rates of editors and comparable non-editors do not differ significantly. The reputation hypothesis (Matthew Effect) is therefore preferred for interpreting the results, because it shows the cumulative nature of prestige-oriented citations. The results contradict the convention of using citation rates as pure performance measures.


Citation Rate Social Science Citation Index Scientific Performance Matthew Effect Scientific Impact 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydia L. Lange
    • 1
  • P. A. Frensch
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany

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