12 November, 2009

Who cites you is important: a new approach to ranking scientists

We are used to such metrics of a scientist's impact in a field like the number of papers published, how many times they are cited, and the h-index that the scientist has. These parameters are expected to rely on credit given to the researcher by the rest of community. However, they don't account for the important thing, namely who cites the published work.

In a paper recently published in Phys. Rev. E, Filippo Radicchi with colleagues propose a new ranking technique that captures this "who" issue: the citations coming from renowned scientists have more weight than those from less known researchers. The authors focused on physics and used the PROLA journal archive (1983-2006) as a testing ground for the methodology. The results show that the probability to win a major physics prize is more accurately predicted by their new method, than by the other metrics, such as citations count.

The only thing is probably missing here – the "negative" citations. The results may be cited as "doubtful" or "wrong" even by famous scientists, and the trustless paper will be scored higher. However, in the case of a scientist's rank, averaging over all his papers will probably make this contribution negligible.

Here is a website where you may figure out a rank of any scientist, based on his articles in physical review journals published before 2006. This piece of work was also highlighted in Physics.

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