Handbook of Optimization in Complex Networks

Volume 57 of the series Springer Optimization and Its Applications pp 463-505


Theory of Citing

  • M. V. SimkinAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical Engineering, University of California Email author 
  • , V. P. RoychowdhuryAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical Engineering, University of California

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We present empirical data on misprints in citations to 12 high-profile papers. The great majority of misprints are identical to misprints in articles that earlier cited the same paper. The distribution of the numbers of misprint repetitions follows a power law. We develop a stochastic model of the citation process, which explains these findings and shows that about 70–90% of scientific citations are copied from the lists of references used in other papers. Citation copying can explain not only why some misprints become popular, but also why some papers become highly cited. We show that a model where a scientist picks few random papers, cites them, and copies a fraction of their references accounts quantitatively for empirically observed distribution of citations.