Note: By submitting this form, you agree to Third Door Media's terms. We respect your privacy. Today, the Search Engine Roundtable has a post explaining that Google News only shows results for news articles up to thirty-days old. To access any older news content, you must use Google News Archive Search. In fact, you must qualify your content by requesting that Google add you to this special index.
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Why we're making the age of our journalism clearer at the Guardian | Help | The Guardian
They report that scholars are citing proportionally more of the older literature. Whats more, the trend appears to be increasing over time.
The researchers explain their results by several changes in the way scholarly information is produced, disseminated, and discovered, including:. For scholars, access to the literature has been been getting much, much easier— especially for older materials.
Most of us publishers, software engineers, librarians, archivists, and scholars themselves would accept the findings of this paper as good news, especially in a news cycle that focuses on negative stories shrinking library funds, commercial publisher profits, licensing impasses, misuse of research funds, plagiarism and fraud in science, among others.
Like the recent Google study of more highly-cited articles being published in non-elite journals , this research paper leaves out details that would allow me to make better sense of the data and ignores other factors that may explain their results. While I understand that the authors of this study all work for a search engine company, for someone working in publishing or libraries, ignoring the DOI is a major omission.
Similarly, a lack of historical context makes the paper ripe for availability bias. The trend reported by the researchers begins in , years before widespread use of the web and functioning relevance based search engines, like Google, and decades before Google Scholar debuted.
Feeling nostalgic? Still, even in this exciting time of new tools, few publishers were looking backward into their archives. It was several years before other publishers adopted similar package deals.
When the library market became saturated, publishers diverted their attention to digitizing backfiles. Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph. Excellent post, pointing out that access to the literature has improved consistently for decades.
Perhaps citing older research is also occurring because authors are finding more clear authority in earlier works, and perhaps authority is harder to find today. As you say, there are many big questions to be considered in this intuitive finding. My research indicates that most citations usually occur early in a paper, where the background for the reported effort is being described. By convention this background description includes a fair amount of history, with some citations going back several decades.
Perhaps it has simply become increasingly fashionable to include more history in explaining the context for the research being reported. Note that historical citation is not necessarily an indicator of direct influence on the research being reported, contrary to the above quotation.
There is anecdotal evidence that many citations are only found in the process of writing the article, after the work is done. Thus the trend in older citations may not mean that researchers are going further back to get their ideas.
On the other hand this trend has interesting implications for half-life computations, in the context of embargo mandates, so it may be important to understand its reason for being. A development at several university libraries reporting the STEM literatures available in eBook packages like Springer are getting rapidly increasing use by faculty and students of chapter downloads. Long form anyone? Yes, looking at the eBook as container offers new and possibly better ways to organize and disseminate certain information.
The trick will be to think beyond the paper analogs e. The economics of paper allow eBooks to be of any length from very short to very long as well as provide a far more expressive palette to the author, especially where ePub 3 is used. This is an excellent point. The Google team shows us an overall effect among all articles in their dataset Figure 1 , but also effects at the level of broad areas of research Figure 2. We could test your hypothesis if we had graphs for each of the subject classifications.
Perhaps this is where the true answer is to be found. Actually, all you need, I believe, is a seminal paper, not a whole new field. Of course, most of those papers were his. I think your Seminal Paper theory is a good one and should be tested.
These growing impact of older articles may be concentrated among a small core of seminal papers. As Price pointed out long ago, specific areas of research tend to exhibit S-shaped cumulative growth curves, first growing rapidly then slowing to something like nothing. Or there might be some structural change in progress. It might take some modeling to figure this out.
Having precursors is as old as science so new research thrusts never come without lots of prior work to cite. We are after all only talking about a relatively small number of citations per paper, around 20 in many cases.
I tend to agree with Jeff that this trend is an artifact, at least in the sense of not a change in how science is done, just how it is reported. Mind you I am not claiming that this is what Jeff means by an artifact. A relevant article appeared in Science about a year ago, 4 October , vol , pp. So, well outside the usual Impact Factor contribution. No explanation about why this shift would happen beyond the mathematical part of course in terms of author behavior citing more background as David suggests or editor behavior selecting articles that are knitting together stories told over time?
But if the growth is in historical papers that would be interesting to recognize. I hereby admit to not yet reading the Verstak et al. It just went to the top of my reading pile! So, this has nothing to do with the fact that google scholar also ranks publications based on their previous links, benefitting older publications disproportionally? Newer publications per default have fewer links and thus end up low in the ranking. And scholars may not look so far down the ranking. It might relate to the small acceleration in the most recent data.
Archambault and Y. Gingras Long-term patterns in the aging of the scientific literature, Proceedings of ISSI The first is that the mean as well as the median reference age increases in time. The second is that the Price Index decreases in time. Using an exponential literature growth model we prove both regularities.
Hence we show that the two results do not have a special informetric reason but that they are just a mathematical consequence of a widely accepted simple literature growth model. I wonder whether some authors may choose to cite older articles because these may not be behind a paywall and may be more easily accessed when writing papers.
Some journals with paywalls may open access to articles a year or two after their publication. But as Phil and Eric both point out, this trend is far too old for digitization to be a factor, except perhaps for the slight acceleration toward the end. There was a section on citations in the semi structured questions we raised.
Unfortunately the paper concentrating on the results is not yet published. The great majority of researchers started by citing seminal papers and sometimes books.
Rounded to the nearest year, half lives for citing year: — 4 — 8 — 14 — 18 — 22 — 26 — People normally cite a few papers that are decades old, that is standard practice, but for more than half the citations to be over 29 years back is incredible. Unless it were a history journal of course.
This is such an extreme case of the trend in question, going from 4 years to 29 years, that it might be a good place for detailed analysis, to try to see what is causing the change. Share Buffer 5. Since , scholars have been citing older articles from Verstak et al.
Something much bigger is taking place. Phil Davis ScholarlyChickn Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. Thanks for an interesting post, Phil.
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