Journals online are leading to more recent and fewer citations
When The Economist is covering a story about science publishing, you know it has got to be interesting!
James Evans published an article in Science that studied 34 million articles published in journals that made their archives available online. He found that "as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles."
My observation is consistent with Evans's results that more and more authors are forgetting where we came from, not citing older literature, and limiting the number of research citations. Also, more specialized fields, like data assimilation and ensembles, don't have as rich a history (despite recent historical reviews in MWR by John Lewis on the scientific origins of these fields).
Evans's article reminds us all that part of being a scientist is conducting the scholarship of where our science came from. Being aware of and reading articles, not only the most recent ones, but the historical ones, as well. Without those shoulders to stand upon, we risk not seeing farther.
Evans, J. E., 2008: Electronic publication and the narrowing of science and scholarship. Science, 321, 395, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473.
Lewis, J.M., 2005: Roots of Ensemble Forecasting. Mon. Wea. Rev., 133, 1865–1885.
Lewis J, Lakshmivarahan S (2008) Sasaki's Pivotal Contribution: Calculus of Variations Applied to Weather Map Analysis. Monthly Weather Review: In Press
(Thanks to Roger Edwards and Steve Weiss for alerting me to this article.)
(Photo from Jupiter Images, as appearing in The Economist)