Research Explosion: More Effort to Climb onto Shoulders of the Giant

by   Guoxiu He, et al.

Fast-growing scientific publications present challenges to the scientific community. In this paper, we describe their implications to researchers. As references form explicit foundations for researchers to conduct a study, we investigate the evolution in reference patterns based on 60.8 million papers published from 1960 to 2015. The results demonstrate that recent papers contain more references than older ones, especially the well-cited papers compared with other papers. Well-cited papers receive 10 or more citations within 5 years of publication. Their references cover a longer period from classic research to very recent studies. Authors of well-cited papers are also farsighted to discover the reference papers with good potential to receive high citation numbers in near future. We also discover that the number of accumulative publications has a negative impact on next-5-year citation count for most fields except Chemistry, Materials science, Environmental science, Biology, and Engineering. Our findings suggest that researchers are expected to devote more effort to producing impactful research. Based on all these findings, we strongly advise against judging researchers simply based on the number of their publications. On the other hand, authors and reviewers should ensure that published papers contain adequate contributions. The code for our analysis is on GitHub:


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