IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jeborg/v166y2019icp667-687.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The citation trap: Papers published at year-end receive systematically fewer citations

Author

Listed:
  • Ma, Chao
  • Li, Yiwei
  • Guo, Feng
  • Si, Kao

Abstract

The present research reveals that academic papers published at year-end on average receive systematically fewer citations than papers published at other times in the year. Using more than 200,000 papers in economics published between 1956 and 2010, the results of our analysis show that papers published between October and December on average get as much as 18.5% fewer citations than those published in the other months in the year. We refer to this phenomenon as the citation trap as there is no evidence that papers published at different times in the year differ in their academic quality. We propose that the current effect could arise because of the time window options in most online academic search engines: the specific setting of those options leads papers published at year-end to appear in the engines’ search results for a systematically shorter period of time as compared to papers published at other months in the year. Our analysis reveals evidence that is consistent with the proposed mechanism and that rules out several alternative explanations. Implications of the current research for academia and possible solutions to mitigate the citation trap are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ma, Chao & Li, Yiwei & Guo, Feng & Si, Kao, 2019. "The citation trap: Papers published at year-end receive systematically fewer citations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 667-687.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:166:y:2019:i:c:p:667-687
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.08.007
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268119302550
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.jebo.2019.08.007?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tom Coupé & Victor Ginsburgh & Abdul Noury, 2010. "Are leading papers of better quality? Evidence from a natural experiment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 1-11, January.
    2. Sauer, Raymond D, 1988. "Estimates of the Returns to Quality and Coauthorship in Economic Academia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 855-866, August.
    3. Feng Guo & Chao Ma & Qingling Shi & Qingqing Zong, 2018. "Succinct effect or informative effect: the relationship between title length and the number of citations," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 116(3), pages 1531-1539, September.
    4. Di Vaio, Gianfranco & Waldenström, Daniel & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Citation success: Evidence from economic history journal publications," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 92-104.
    5. Glenn Ellison, 2013. "How Does the Market Use Citation Data? The Hirsch Index in Economics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 63-90, July.
    6. Richard B. Freeman & Wei Huang, 2015. "Collaborating with People Like Me: Ethnic Coauthorship within the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 289-318.
    7. Glenn Ellison, 2010. "How does the Market Use Citation Data? The Hirsch Index in Economics," CESifo Working Paper Series 3188, CESifo.
    8. Kayvan Kousha & Mike Thelwall, 2007. "Google Scholar citations and Google Web/URL citations: A multi‐discipline exploratory analysis," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 58(7), pages 1055-1065, May.
    9. Sebastian J. Goerg & Johannes Kaiser, 2009. "Nonparametric testing of distributions—the Epps–Singleton two-sample test using the empirical characteristic function," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(3), pages 454-465, September.
    10. Lee Pinkowitz, 2002. "Research Dissemination and Impact: Evidence from Web Site Downloads," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 485-499, February.
    11. Vieira, E.S. & Gomes, J.A.N.F., 2010. "Citations to scientific articles: Its distribution and dependence on the article features," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-13.
    12. Pedro Cosme Costa Vieira, 2008. "An economics journals' ranking that takes into account the number of pages and co-authors," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(7), pages 853-861.
    13. Wei Huang, 2015. "DO ABCs GET MORE CITATIONS THAN XYZs?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(1), pages 773-789, January.
    14. repec:wly:soecon:v:82:2:y:2015:p:430-452 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2014. "Page Limits on Economics Articles: Evidence from Two Journals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 149-168, Summer.
    16. Arthur M. Diamond Jr., 1986. "What is a Citation Worth?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 200-215.
    17. Scott Smart & Joel Waldfogel, 1996. "A Citation-Based Test for Discrimination at Economics and Finance Journals," NBER Working Papers 5460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Kong, Ling & Wang, Dongbo, 2020. "Comparison of citations and attention of cover and non-cover papers," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4).
    2. Brady D. Lund & Sanjay Kumar Maurya, 2020. "The relationship between highly-cited papers and the frequency of citations to other papers within-issue among three top information science journals," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 125(3), pages 2491-2504, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Feng Guo & Chao Ma & Qingling Shi & Qingqing Zong, 2018. "Succinct effect or informative effect: the relationship between title length and the number of citations," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 116(3), pages 1531-1539, September.
    2. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2018. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(1), pages 115-156, March.
    3. Hasan, Syed & Breunig, Robert, 2020. "Article Length and Citation Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 13045, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Damien Besancenot & Jean-Michel Courtault & Khaled El Dika, 2012. "Piecework versus merit pay: a mean field games approach to academic behavior," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 122(4), pages 547-563.
    5. John Gibson & David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2017. "Citations Or Journal Quality: Which Is Rewarded More In The Academic Labor Market?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1945-1965, October.
    6. John Gibson & David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2014. "Which Journal Rankings Best Explain Academic Salaries? Evidence From The University Of California," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(4), pages 1322-1340, October.
    7. Karol Flores-Szwagrzak & Rafael Treibich, 2020. "Teamwork and Individual Productivity," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(6), pages 2523-2544, June.
    8. Damien Besancenot & Abdelghani Maddi, 2019. "Should citations be weighted to assess the influence of an academic article?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 435(1), pages 435-445.
    9. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2020. "What Do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Economics Journals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 195-217, March.
    10. Conan Mukherjee & Ranojoy Basu & Aftab Alam, 2020. "A measure of authorship by publications," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 41(3), pages 354-361, April.
    11. David Ong & Ho Fai Chan & Benno Torgler & Yu (Alan) Yang, 2015. "Endogenous selection into single and coauthorships by surname initials in economics and management," QuBE Working Papers 031, QUT Business School.
    12. David L. Anderson & John Tressler, 2013. "The Relevance of the “h-” and “g-” Index to Economics in the Context of A Nation-Wide Research Evaluation Scheme: The New Zealand Case," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(1), pages 81-94, March.
    13. Paul W. Grimes & Charles A. Register, 1997. "Career Publications and Academic Job Rank: Evidence from the Class of 1968," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(1), pages 82-92, March.
    14. Kong, Ling & Wang, Dongbo, 2020. "Comparison of citations and attention of cover and non-cover papers," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4).
    15. Schreiber, Michael, 2013. "A case study of the arbitrariness of the h-index and the highly-cited-publications indicator," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 379-387.
    16. Jinyoung Kim & Kanghyock Koh, 2014. "Incentives for Journal Editors," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 47(1), pages 348-371, February.
    17. David I. Stern & Richard S.J. Tol, 2018. "How to Count Citations If You Must: Comment," Working Paper Series 0118, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    18. Etienne Farvaque & Frédéric Gannon, 2018. "Profiling giants: the networks and influence of Buchanan and Tullock," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 175(3), pages 277-302, June.
    19. Clément Bosquet & Pierre-Philippe Combes, 2013. "Are academics who publish more also more cited? Individual determinants of publication and citation records," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 97(3), pages 831-857, December.
    20. Dave Colander, 2008. "Economists, Incentives, Judgement and Empirical Work," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0806, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Citation; Publication timing; Year-end; Search engine;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:166:y:2019:i:c:p:667-687. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Nithya Sathishkumar (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.