How Many Cited Papers are Not Read by Citing Authors?

ORI Newsletter Excerpt: Volume 11, No. 2, March 2003

A study of 4,300 citations to a seminal paper on condensed-matter physics concluded that 4 out of 5 citing authors did not read the paper because the miscitations of the paper were often identical to each other, according to Nature.

The study was conducted by Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury, UCLA electrical engineers, who wanted to estimate how often errors in citation lists are passed on through other papers. Simkin and Roychowdhury reasoned that these errors are repeated because the papers are copied from someone's citation list rather than read and cited independently.

A physicist who has studied citation statistics thought the above estimate (20 percent) on original reading may be low. His estimate is 50 percent.

Source URL: https://ori.hhs.gov/how-many-cited-papers-are-not-read-citing-authors