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Novelty in Science: The Impact of French Physicists' Novel Articles


  • Jacques Mairesse

    (Maastricht University (unu-merit)

  • Michele Pezzoni

    (Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, GREDEG, France)


This paper investigates the impact of publishing an article introducing a novel scientific idea and the impact of follower articles reusing that idea. We develop an indicator of novelty based on the appearance of an unprecedented combination of referenced journals in an article bibliography. We define novel articles as those including a novel combination of referenced journals the first year it appears, while we define follower articles those reusing the novel combination within five years since its appearance. We conduct our study on the articles published, between 2005 and 2009, by all the French physicists active in 2005 in public universities and at CNRS. We find that novel and follower articles receive the same number of citations (calculated in a 5-year window) as non-novel articles, although they are published in journals with lower impact factor. When we distinguish between citations received in the short and long run, we find that novel and follower articles benefit of a citation premium in the long run, i.e. 3-4 years after their publication.

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  • Jacques Mairesse & Michele Pezzoni, 2018. "Novelty in Science: The Impact of French Physicists' Novel Articles," GREDEG Working Papers 2018-23, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2018-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wang, Jian & Veugelers, Reinhilde & Stephan, Paula, 2017. "Bias against novelty in science: A cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1416-1436.
    2. Verhoeven, Dennis & Bakker, Jurriën & Veugelers, Reinhilde, 2016. "Measuring technological novelty with patent-based indicators," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 707-723.
    3. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bornmann, Lutz & Tekles, Alexander & Zhang, Helena H. & Ye, Fred Y., 2019. "Do we measure novelty when we analyze unusual combinations of cited references? A validation study of bibliometric novelty indicators based on F1000Prime data," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4).

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