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Distance and velocity measures: using citations to determine breadth and speed of research impact

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Research that integrates the social and natural sciences is vital to address many societal challenges, yet is difficult to arrange, conduct, and disseminate. This paper compares diffusion of the research supported by a unique U.S. National Science Foundation program on Human and Social Dynamics (“HSD”) with a matched group of heavily cited papers. We offer a measure of the distance of cites between the Web of Science Category (“WoSC”) in which a publication appears and the WoSC of the journal citing it, and find that HSD publications are cited more distantly than are comparison publications. We provide another measure—citation velocity—finding that HSD publications are cited with similar lag times as are the comparison papers. These basic citation distance and velocity measures enrich analyses of research knowledge diffusion patterns.

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This work was supported by the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation (NSF) award: “EAGER: Assessing the Interdisciplinarity and Research Networking Impacts of the Human and Social Dynamics Priority Area Program [Award No. BCS-0968924]. The findings and observations contained in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research was undertaken at Search Technology, Inc.

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Correspondence to Jon Garner.

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Garner, J., Porter, A.L. & Newman, N.C. Distance and velocity measures: using citations to determine breadth and speed of research impact. Scientometrics 100, 687–703 (2014).

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