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Sci Rep. 2011;1:181. doi: 10.1038/srep00181. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Statistical regularities in the rank-citation profile of scientists.

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  • 1IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies, 55100 Lucca, Italy.


Recent science of science research shows that scientific impact measures for journals and individual articles have quantifiable regularities across both time and discipline. However, little is known about the scientific impact distribution at the scale of an individual scientist. We analyze the aggregate production and impact using the rank-citation profile c(i)(r) of 200 distinguished professors and 100 assistant professors. For the entire range of paper rank r, we fit each c(i)(r) to a common distribution function. Since two scientists with equivalent Hirsch h-index can have significantly different c(i)(r) profiles, our results demonstrate the utility of the β(i) scaling parameter in conjunction with h(i) for quantifying individual publication impact. We show that the total number of citations C(i) tallied from a scientist's N(i) papers scales as [Formula: see text]. Such statistical regularities in the input-output patterns of scientists can be used as benchmarks for theoretical models of career progress.

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