Better late than never? On the chance to become highly cited only beyond the standard bibliometric time horizon
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According to Garfield (1980),most scientists can name an example of an important discovery that had little initial impact on contemporary research. And he uses Mendel's work a classical example. Delayed recognition is sometimes used by scientists as an argument against citation-based indicators based on citation windows defined for a short- or medium-term initial period beginning with the paper's publication year. This study is focussed on a large-scale analysis of the citation history of all papers indexed in the 1980 annual volume of the Science Citation Index. The objective is two-fold, particularly, to analyse whether the share of delayed recognition papers is significant and whether such papers are typical of the work of their authors at that time. In a first step, the background of advanced bibliometric models by Glänzel, Egghe, Rousseau and Burrell of stochastic citation processes and first-citation distributions is described briefly. The second part is devoted to the bibliometric analysis of first-citation statistics and of the phenomenon of citation delay. In a third step, finally, delayed reception publications have been studied individually. Their topics and the citation patterns of other papers by the same authors have been studied to uncover principles of regularity or exceptionality of delayed reception publications.
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