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A citation-based cross-disciplinary study on literature aging: part I—the synchronous approach

Abstract

We provide a view of the literature aging features in the sciences and social sciences, at different aggregation levels, of major fields, subfields, journals and individual papers and from different perspectives. Against to the wide belief that scientific literature may become more rapidly obsolete, we found that, in general, the share of more recent references were distinctly lower in 2014 than that in 1992, which holds for all aggregation levels. As exceptions, the subfields related to Chemistry and the subfield energy and fuels, have shown a clear trend to cite more recent literature than older articles. Particle and nuclear physics and astronomy and astrophysics, the two subfields which strongly rely on e-print archives, have shown a ‘polarization’ tendency of reference distribution. Furthermore, we stress that it is very important to measure the Price Index at the paper level to account for differences between the documents published in the same journals and (sub-)fields.

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Fig. 1

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

Fig. 2

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

Fig. 3

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

Fig. 4

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

Fig. 5

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

Fig. 6

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection

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Acknowledgements

Lin Zhang acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grants 71573085 and 71103064, the Innovation talents of science and technology in HeNan Province (16HASTIT038; 2015GGJS-108) and the research center of information technology & economic and social development in Zhejiang Province. We are grateful for two anonymous reviewers’ insightful comments and valuable advices.

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Correspondence to Lin Zhang.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 5 and 6.

Table 5 Reference-based indicators for 65 subfields ranked by Price Index (1992).
Table 6 Reference-based indicators for 65 subfields ranked by Price Index (2014).

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Zhang, L., Glänzel, W. A citation-based cross-disciplinary study on literature aging: part I—the synchronous approach. Scientometrics 111, 1573–1589 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-017-2289-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-017-2289-y

Keywords

  • Literature aging
  • Price Index
  • References
  • Citations