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Same data may bring conflict results: a caution to use the disruptive index

09/15/2020
by   Guoqiang Liang, et al.
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In the last two decades, scholars have designed various types of bibliographic related indicators to identify breakthrough-class academic achievements. In this study, we take a further step to look at properties of the promising disruptive index, thus deepening our understanding of this index and further facilitating its wise use in bibliometrics. Using publication records for Nobel laureates between 1900 and 2016, we calculate the DI of Nobel Prize-winning articles and its benchmark articles in each year and use the median DI to denote the central tendency in each year, and compare results between Medicine, Chemistry, and Physics. We find that conclusions based on DI depend on the length of their citation time window, and different citation time windows may cause different, even controversial, results. Also, discipline and time play a role on the length of citation window when using DI to measure the innovativeness of a scientific work. Finally, not all articles with DI equals to 1 were the breakthrough-class achievements. In other words, the DI stands up theoretically, but we should not neglect that the DI was only shaped by the number of citing articles and times the references have been cited, these data may vary from database to database.

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