IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On measuring scientific influence


  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Wagstaff, Adam


Bibliometric measures based on citations are widely used in assessing the scientific publication records of authors, institutions and journals. Yet currently favored measures lack a clear conceptual foundation and are known to have counter-intuitive properties. The authors propose a new approach that is grounded on a theoretical"influence function,"representing explicit prior beliefs about how citations reflect influence. They provide conditions for robust qualitative comparisons of influence -- conditions that can be implemented using readily-available data. An example is provided using the economics publication records of selected universities and the World Bank.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & Wagstaff, Adam, 2010. "On measuring scientific influence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5375, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5375

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Zimmermann, 2013. "Academic Rankings with RePEc," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(3), pages 1-32, December.
    2. van de Walle, Dominique & Mu, Ren, 2007. "Fungibility and the flypaper effect of project aid: Micro-evidence for Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 667-685, November.
    3. Chen, Shaohua & Mu, Ren & Ravallion, Martin, 2009. "Are there lasting impacts of aid to poor areas?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 512-528, April.
    4. Pranab Bardhan, 2003. "Journal publication in economics: a view from the periphery," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(488), pages 332-337, June.
    5. Das, Jishnu & Do, Quy-Toan & Shaines, Karen & Srikant, Sowmya, 2013. "U.S. and them: The Geography of Academic Research," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 112-130.
    6. Dollar, David & Levin, Victoria, 2005. "Sowing and reaping: institutional quality and project outcomes in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3524, The World Bank.
    7. Gavin, Michael & Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "The World Bank in Historical Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 329-334, May.
    8. Wagstaff, Adam, 2011. "Fungibility and the impact of development assistance: Evidence from Vietnam's health sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 62-73, January.
    9. Gilbert, Christopher & Powell, Andrew & Vines, David, 1999. "Positioning the World Bank," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(459), pages 598-633, November.
    10. Dollar, David & Levin, Victoria, 2006. "The Increasing Selectivity of Foreign Aid, 1984-2003," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2034-2046, December.
    11. Ravallion, Martin & Wagstaff, Adam, 2010. "On measuring scientific influence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5375, The World Bank.
    12. Silvia Marchesi & Emanuela Sirtori, 2011. "Is two better than one? The effects of IMF and World Bank interaction on growth," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 287-306, September.
    13. Wane, Waly, 2004. "The quality of foreign aid : country selectivity or donors incentives?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3325, The World Bank.
    14. Glenn Ellison, 2002. "The Slowdown of the Economics Publishing Process," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 947-993, October.
    15. Thomas Flores & Irfan Nooruddin, 2009. "Financing the peace: Evaluating World Bank post-conflict assistance programs," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, March.
    16. Christopher Barrett & Aliakbar Olia & Dee Von Bailey, 2000. "Subdiscipline-specific journal rankings: whither Applied Economics?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 239-252.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Martin Ravallion & Adam Wagstaff, 2012. "The World Bank’s publication record," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 343-368, December.

    More about this item


    Information Security&Privacy; Economic Theory&Research; Information and Records Management; Tertiary Education; Knowledge for Development;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:wbk:wbrwps:5375. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    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.