Reference power law question

Steven Morris samorri at OKSTATE.EDU
Tue Oct 28 09:11:03 EST 2003

Does anyone out there know the earliest mention in the literature of the
phenomenon that the frequency of references in a collection of journal
papers tends to follow a power law?

While there are other bibliometric distributions such as Lotka's Law and
Bradford's Law that go back to the 1920's and 1930's, the earliest
comprehensive treatment of reference distributions that I can find is a
1971 paper by Naranan(1).  Price's 1965 paper(2) makes passing mention
of reference distributions having a power law exponent of 2.5 to 3.
Did someone discuss reference distributions prior to Price's paper?


S. Morris

1. Naranan, S. "Power law relations in science bibliography - a
self-consistent interpretation", J. Documentation, (27)2, 83-97, 1971
2. Price, D. "Networks of scientific papers", Science,
149(3683),510-515,  1965

Steven A. Morris                            samorri at
Electrical and Computer Engineering        office: 405-744-1662
202 Engineering So.
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078

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