Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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)


Blogger jimmyc said...

Reviewers should be helping to alert potential manuscripts for failing to cite articles. I wonder if a distinction can be made about who is failing to cite older articles? Is it everyone, only new students, people who are jumping into new fields in their own research, or younger researchers who don't feel the "old" content is relevant?

Meteorology is such a young field in comparison. It is hard to imagine that we can forget to cite some of the foundation we currently rest on.

August 14, 2008 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Bill Becquart said...

Hey Dave,

Why are you not posting to "Dave in Suomi" anymore ????

Realllly enjoyed following your adventures !!!!

Bill Becquart

August 23, 2008 at 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Odessa said...

Good words.

November 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM  

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