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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e49476. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049476. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

The impact of article length on the number of future citations: a bibliometric analysis of general medicine journals.

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Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences (AIBS), Marousi, Athens, Greece.



The number of citations received is considered an index of study quality and impact. We aimed to examine the factors associated with the number of citations of published articles, focusing on the article length.


Original human studies published in the first trimester of 2006 in 5 major General Medicine journals were analyzed with regard to the number of authors and of author-affiliated institutions, title and abstract word count, article length (number of print pages), number of bibliographic references, study design, and 2006 journal impact factor (JIF). A multiple linear regression model was employed to identify the variables independently associated with the number of article citations received through January 2012.


On univariate analysis the JIF, number of authors, article length, study design (interventional/observational and prospective/retrospective), title and abstract word count, number of author-affiliated institutions, and number of references were all associated with the number of citations received. On multivariate analysis with the logarithm of citations as the dependent variable, only article length [regression coefficient: 14.64 (95% confidence intervals: (5.76-23.50)] and JIF [3.37 (1.80-4.948)] independently predicted the number of citations. The variance of citations explained by these parameters was 51.2%.


In a sample of articles published in major General Medicine journals, in addition to journal impact factors, article length and number of authors independently predicted the number of citations. This may reflect a higher complexity level and quality of longer and multi-authored studies.

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