How Citation Boosts Promote Scientific Paradigm Shifts and Nobel Prizes PLOS

Eugene Garfield eugene.garfield at THOMSONREUTERS.COM
Fri May 20 13:07:22 EDT 2011



Title: How Citation Boosts Promote Scientific Paradigm Shifts and Nobel

Authors: Mazloumian, A; Eom, YH; Helbing, D; Lozano, S; Fortunato, S 

Author Full Names: Mazloumian, Amin; Eom, Young-Ho; Helbing, Dirk;
Lozano, Sergi; Fortunato, Santo

Source: PLOS ONE 6 (5): Art. No. e18975 MAY 4 2011

Language: English

Document Type: Article


Abstract: Nobel Prizes are commonly seen to be among the most
prestigious achievements of our times. Based on mining several million
citations, we quantitatively analyze the processes driving paradigm
shifts in science. We find that groundbreaking discoveries of Nobel
Prize Laureates and other famous scientists are not only acknowledged by
many citations of their landmark papers. Surprisingly, they also boost
the citation rates of their previous publications. Given that
innovations must outcompete the rich-gets-richer effect for scientific
citations, it turns out that they can make their way only through
citation cascades. A quantitative analysis reveals how and why they
happen. Science appears to behave like a self-organized critical system,
in which citation cascades of all sizes occur, from continuous
scientific progress all the way up to scientific revolutions, which
change the way we see our world. Measuring the "boosting effect" of
landmark papers, our analysis reveals! how new ideas and new players can
make their way and finally triumph in a world dominated by established
paradigms. The underlying "boost factor" is also useful to discover
scientific breakthroughs and talents much earlier than through classical
citation analysis, which by now has become a widespread method to
measure scientific excellence, influencing scientific careers and the
distribution of research funds. Our findings reveal patterns of
collective social behavior, which are also interesting from an attention
economics perspective. Understanding the origin of scientific authority
may therefore ultimately help to explain how social influence comes
about and why the value of goods depends so strongly on the attention
they attract.

Reprint Address: Mazloumian, A, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.

Research Institution addresses: [Mazloumian, Amin; Helbing, Dirk;
Lozano, Sergi] ETH, Zurich, Switzerland; [Eom, Young-Ho; Fortunato,
Santo] ISI, Complex Networks & Syst Lagrange Lab, Turin, Italy

E-mail Address: fortunato at

Funding Acknowledgement: European Commission [231200, 238597]




Eugene Garfield, PhD. email:  garfield at
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