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Learning and the structure of citation networks

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  • Lafond, Francois

    () (UNU-MERIT/MGSoG)

Abstract

The distribution of citations received by scientific publications can be approximated by a power law, a finding that has been explained by “cumulative advantage”. This paper argues that socially embedded learning is a plausible mechanism behind this cumulative advantage. A model assuming that scientists face a time trade-off between learning and writing papers, that they learn the papers known by their peers, and that they cite papers they know, generates a power law distribution of popularity, and a shifted power law for the distribution of citations received. The two distributions flatten if there is relatively more learning. The predicted exponent for the distribution of citations is independent of the average in-(or out-) degree, contrary to an untested prediction of the reference model (Price, 1976). Using publicly available citation networks, an estimate of the share of time devoted to learning (against producing) is given around two thirds.

Suggested Citation

  • Lafond, Francois, 2012. "Learning and the structure of citation networks," MERIT Working Papers 071, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2012071
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2012/wp2012-071.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lafond, François, 2015. "Self-organization of knowledge economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 150-165.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    shifted power law; scale free networks; two-mode networks; cumulative advantage; polynomial attachment kernel; innovation; diffusion.;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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