A Mathematical Theory of Citation


In a series of papers we showed that copying of existing citations from previously published papers is a dominant mechanism driving the citation process in scholarly publications. While the copying practice was widely acknowledged as a folk truism in academia and scholarly circles, we were the first one to put it on a solid analytical footing, supported by data and predictions (based on our models) that match key statistical properties of observed citation data. Perhaps, more importantly, these papers have led to a much-needed public discourse in the scholarly circles about the usefulness of the widespread practice of using “citation count” as a principal metric for evaluating contribution of individuals. The papers have been covered in numerous online and print publications, in fact too numerous to enumerate, but including, NatureScientific American (Spanish), New Scientist, major newspapers in several countries (including the GuardianSudkurierBoston Globe etc.), and by the BBC’s internationally-popular radio program Science in Action.