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Cover Effects on Citations Uncovered: Evidence from Nature


  • Pietro Battiston
  • Pier Luigi Sacco
  • Luca Stanca


Despite the prominent role played by bibliometric indicators for evaluating research, progress in pinning down the determinants of citation ows has so far been hindered by endogeneity issues. Based on 30 years of bibliometric data, we exploit a Regression Discontinuity Design to causally identify the effects that an article featured on the cover of the journal Nature has on citations to all articles by its authors. We confirm that, over time, cover articles are cited significantly more than non-cover articles, with this difference being long-lasting. However, when considering all articles by Nature authors, we find evidence of a crowding-out effect: the publication of a cover article causes citations to previous articles by its authors to decline sharply relative to citations to articles by non-cover authors.

Suggested Citation

  • Pietro Battiston & Pier Luigi Sacco & Luca Stanca, 2019. "Cover Effects on Citations Uncovered: Evidence from Nature," Working Papers 420, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:420

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    More about this item


    Bibliometric indicators; Citation flows; Research evaluation; Cover article.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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