Probability and expected frequency of breakthroughs - a robust method of research assessment based on the double rank property of citation distributions

07/19/2018
by   Alonso Rodriguez-Navarro, et al.
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In research policy, effective measures that lead to improvements in the generation of knowledge must be based on reliable methods of research assessment, but for many countries and institutions this is not the case. Publication and citation analyses can be used to estimate the part played by countries and institutions in the global progress of knowledge, but a concrete method of estimation is far from evident. The challenge arises because publications that report real progress of knowledge form an extremely low proportion of all publications; in most countries and institutions such contributions appear less than once per year. One way to overcome this difficulty is to calculate probabilities instead of counting the rare events on which scientific progress is based. This study reviews and summarizes several recent publications, and adds new results that demonstrate that the citation distribution of normal publications allows the probability of the infrequent events that support the progress of knowledge to be calculated.

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