Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Relationship between cross-field citations and work impact

A recent work by Shi, Adamic , Tseng and Clarkson has an interesting analysis on the relationship between works that draw from different areas (i.e., cite papers outside their fields) and their subsequent impact. [1]

One of the interesting bits:

Intuitively, any individual citation will at most have a very weak impact on the success of a citing paper. It will only be one of possibly dozens of references made in an article or patent. Other factors, such as the publication venue and the reputation of the authors, are more likely to contribute to the impact of the article than any individual citation the authors include. We nevertheless see a significant relationship between the interdisciplinarity of citations and the impact of the publication.

This reminds me of previous results on the relationship between network constraint and value of ideas [2]. The intuition is that a person who is in a bridge position in her social network (i.e., connecting two distinct groups) is more exposed to different ways of thinking, which may lead to that person having more valuable ideas. Here, the social network is the citation network, and the bridges are papers that cite otherwise unconnected clusters (i.e., fields).

A recipe for higher impact research?

[1] Shi et al. 2009. The Impact of Boundary Spanning Scholarly Publications and Patents. PLoS ONE.
[2] Burt, R., 2003. Structural Holes and Good Ideas. American Journal of Sociology.