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Scientometrics. 2017;112(2):1079-1092. doi: 10.1007/s11192-017-2405-z. Epub 2017 May 16.

Slow reception and under-citedness in climate change research: A case study of Charles David Keeling, discoverer of the risk of global warming.

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Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstraße 1, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany.
CAS Innovation LAB, CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service), a division of the American Chemical Society, 2540 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43202-1505 USA.
Division for Science and Innovation Studies, Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society, Hofgartenstr. 8, 80539 Munich, Germany.


The Keeling curve has become a chemical landmark, whereas the papers by Charles David Keeling about the underlying carbon dioxide measurements are not cited as often as can be expected against the backdrop of his final approval. In this bibliometric study, we analyze Keeling's papers as a case study for under-citedness of climate change publications. Three possible reasons for the under-citedness of Keeling's papers are discussed: (1) The discourse on global cooling at the starting time of Keeling's measurement program, (2) the underestimation of what is often seen as "routine science", and (3) the amount of implicit/informal citations at the expense of explicit/formal (reference-based) citations. Those reasons may have contributed more or less to the slow reception and the under-citedness of Keeling's seminal works.


Bibliometrics; Climate change; Keeling curve; RPYS

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