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Forgetting and the Ageing of Scientific Publications


In this paper, I will argue that the process of ageing in scientific publications on the one hand, and the process of obsolescence and forgetting to which all kinds of phenomena, people and events are exposed on the other, develop with the same speed. Whereas in the literature on the subject it is stated that the speed of the ageing of scientific literature is exponential, it is shown that the decay from 'age 4' is best described by an inverse function, as was already brought to light in reference to forgetting of people and events as measured by the frequencies of calendar years in large text corpora. The empirical bases are SCI data as presented by Nakamoto and various files of reference data collected by the author. It is shown that the decay curve of the reference frequencies from 'age 4' backwards is independent of time.

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Pollman, T. Forgetting and the Ageing of Scientific Publications. Scientometrics 47, 43–54 (2000).

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  • Scientific Publication
  • Scientific Literature
  • Reference Data
  • Inverse Function
  • Decay Curve