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A Study on the Readability of Scientific Publications

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 11799)


Several works have used traditional readability measures to investigate the readability of scientific texts and its association with scientific impact . However, these works are limited in terms of dataset size, range of domains, and examined readability and impact measures. Our study addresses these limitations, investigating the readability of paper abstracts on a very large multidisciplinary corpus, the association of expert judgments on abstract readability with traditional readability measures, and the association of abstract readability with the scientific impact of the corresponding publication.


  • Readability
  • Scientific impact
  • Text analysis

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Fig. 1.


  1. 1. (November 2018 Dump).

  2. 2.

  3. 3.

  4. 4.

    This is a restriction imposed by the textstat library (see Sect. 3.2).

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

  7. 7.

    For each question, the interpretation of the extreme scale values (i.e., 1 and 5) were provided (actual wording is described in the dataset description page in Zenodo).

  8. 8.

  9. 9.

  10. 10.

    Recall that FRE scores increase with readability, contrary to the other measures.

  11. 11.

    Due to lack of space we omit \(\rho \) values, however the results were similar.

  12. 12.

    For this measurement, we used all overlapping D2 abstracts for each expert pair.

  13. 13.

    We omit \(\tau \) since it runs very slow on this dataset (\(\sim 12\)M papers).


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We acknowledge support of this work by the project “Moving from Big Data Management to Data Science” (MIS 5002437/3) which is implemented under the Action “Reinforcement of the Research and Innovation Infrastructure”, funded by the Operational Programme “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (NSRF 2014-2020) and co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund).

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Correspondence to Thanasis Vergoulis .

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Vergoulis, T., Kanellos, I., Tzerefos, A., Chatzopoulos, S., Dalamagas, T., Skiadopoulos, S. (2019). A Study on the Readability of Scientific Publications. In: Doucet, A., Isaac, A., Golub, K., Aalberg, T., Jatowt, A. (eds) Digital Libraries for Open Knowledge. TPDL 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11799. Springer, Cham.

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