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The advantage of simple paper abstracts


  • Letchford, Adrian
  • Preis, Tobias
  • Moat, Helen Susannah


Each year, researchers publish an immense number of scientific papers. While some receive many citations, others receive none. Here we investigate whether any of this variance can be explained by the choice of words in a paper's abstract. We find that doubling the word frequency of an average abstract increases citations by 0.70%. We also find that journals which publish papers whose abstracts are shorter and contain more frequently used words receive slightly more citations per paper. Specifically, adding a 5 letter word to an abstract decreases the number of citations by 0.02%. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the style in which a paper's abstract is written bears some relation to its scientific impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Letchford, Adrian & Preis, Tobias & Moat, Helen Susannah, 2016. "The advantage of simple paper abstracts," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-8.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:infome:v:10:y:2016:i:1:p:1-8
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2015.11.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Buter, R.K. & van Raan, A.F.J., 2011. "Non-alphanumeric characters in titles of scientific publications: An analysis of their occurrence and correlation with citation impact," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 608-617.
    2. Petersen, Alexander M. & Succi, Sauro, 2013. "The Z-index: A geometric representation of productivity and impact which accounts for information in the entire rank-citation profile," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 823-832.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yan Yan & Shanwu Tian & Jingjing Zhang, 2020. "The impact of a paper’s new combinations and new components on its citation," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 122(2), pages 895-913, February.
    2. Uddin, Shahadat & Khan, Arif, 2016. "The impact of author-selected keywords on citation counts," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 1166-1177.
    3. Guan, Jiancheng & Yan, Yan & Zhang, Jing Jing, 2017. "The impact of collaboration and knowledge networks on citations," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 407-422.
    4. JingJing Zhang & Jiancheng Guan, 2017. "Scientific relatedness and intellectual base: a citation analysis of un-cited and highly-cited papers in the solar energy field," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 110(1), pages 141-162, January.
    5. Andrea Fronzetti Colladon & Ciriaco Andrea D’Angelo & Peter A. Gloor, 2020. "Predicting the future success of scientific publications through social network and semantic analysis," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(1), pages 357-377, July.


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