AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 130. HAD: The Papers of the Century
Special Session Oral, Saturday, January 15, 2000, 2:00-5:00pm, Regency V

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[130.01] Do Important Papers Produce High Citation Counts?

H. A. Abt (KPNO)

It is generally thought that citation counts measure importance and/or usefulness of scientific papers, although they do not tell us into which category a paper falls. Here we ask the inverse question, namely do important papers invariably produce high citation counts? In honor of the AAS centennial we asked 53 senior astronomers to select the most important papers published in the AJ or ApJ this century and to write commentaries about them. The original papers and commentaries will be published in a special part of the ApJ. We counted citations in 1955-1989 to those paper and to 106 adjacent papers as controls. We found that the important papers averaged 6.7 times as many citations as the controls. Ninety-four percent of the important papers produced more citations than the average for the controls. Thus important papers almost invariably produce high citation counts. We also found that the lifetimes of the important papers were 2.5 times longer on the average than for the controls.

KPNO is funded by the National Science Foundation through a grant to AURA, Inc.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: abt@noao.edu

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