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How to Count Citations If You Must: Comment


  • David I. Stern

    () (Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University)

  • Richard S.J. Tol

    () (Department of Economics, University of Sussex
    Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
    Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
    Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam)


Perry and Reny (2016) show that the Euclidean length of a citation list satisfies five axioms including "depth relevance". We explore "breadth relevance", which favors consistent achievers over one-hit wonders. A convex combination of depth and breadth relevant citation metrics does not satisfy the independence axiom, but violations are rare. We estimate the parameters of this metric using two datasets and three rankings, controlling for cohort effects. We find that simply counting citations--neither breadth nor depth--maximizes the correlation between citation index and department rank. However, depth may explain the allocation of researchers across lower ranked departments.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:sus:susewp:0118

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glenn Ellison, 2010. "How does the Market Use Citation Data? The Hirsch Index in Economics," CESifo Working Paper Series 3188, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Vladimir G. Deineko & Gerhard J. Woeginger, 2009. "A new family of scientific impact measures: The generalized Kosmulski-indices," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 80(3), pages 819-826, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    5. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Yohanes E. Riyanto & Jack L. Knetsch, 2017. "Impact of Lower Rated Journals on Economists' Judgments of Publication Lists: Evidence from a Survey Experiment," PIER Discussion Papers 63, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Jul 2017.
    6. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "The Matthew effect for cohorts of economists," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 522-527.
    7. Quesada, Antonio, 2011. "Axiomatics for the Hirsch index and the Egghe index," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 476-480.
    8. Woeginger, Gerhard J., 2008. "An axiomatic characterization of the Hirsch-index," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 224-232, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How to Count Citations If You Must
      by (David Stern) in Stochastic Trend on 2018-01-06 05:23:00
    2. Annual Review 2018
      by (David Stern) in Stochastic Trend on 2018-12-23 02:35:00

    More about this item


    research assessment; citations;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation

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