Disruptive papers in science are losing impact

by   An Zeng, et al.

The impact and originality are two critical dimensions for evaluating scientific publications, measured by citation and disruption metrics respectively. Despite the extensive effort made to understand the statistical properties and evolution of each of these metrics, the relations between the two remain unclear. In this paper, we study the evolution during last 70 years of the correlation between scientific papers' citation and disruption, finding surprisingly a decreasing trend from positive to negative correlations over the years. Consequently, during the years, there are fewer and fewer disruptive works among the highly cited papers. These results suggest that highly disruptive studies nowadays attract less attention from the scientific community. The analysis on papers' references supports this trend, showing that papers citing older references, less popular references and diverse references become to have less citations. Possible explanations for the less attention phenomenon could be due to the increasing information overload in science, and citations become more and more prominent for impact. This is supported by the evidence that research fields with more papers have a more negative correlation between citation and disruption. Finally, we show the generality of our findings by analyzing and comparing six disciplines.


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