The Impact of Citation Timing: A Framework and Examples

David L. Anderson, John Tressler


The literature on research evaluation has noted important differences in citation time patterns between disciplines, high and low ranked journals and types of publications.  Delays in the receipt of citations suggest that the diffusion of knowledge following discovery is slower and given the passage of time the research contribution may be less valuable.  This paper provides a framework for the comparison of different citation time patterns.  Using principles drawn from the literature on stochastic dominance we show that comparisons of time patterns can be based on very general characteristics of cost of delay functions.  When a particular function is used to represent the cost of delay, the magnitude of the impact of differences in citation time patterns can be assessed using simple exponential discounting.  We demonstrate the application of this framework in assessing different citation time patterns by applying it to comparisons of 10-year citation records for: leading journals in economics, different business subject areas, journals in economics compared with those in neuroscience and the research output of individual economists.  


citations, citation time patterns, discounting citations, research measurement

Full Text:




Author (2016)

Author (2012)

Archambault, E. and Lariviére V. (2009) 'History of the journal impact factor: Contingencies and consequences', Scientometrics, 79/3, pp.1-15.

Atkinson, A.B. (1987) 'On the measurement of poverty', Econometrica, 55/4, pp.749-764.

Atkinson, A.B. (1970) 'On the measurement of inequality', Journal of Economic Theory, 2, pp.244-263.

Bruns, S,B. and Stern D.I. (2016) 'Research assessment using early citation information', Scientometrics, 108/2, pp. 917-935.

Czarnitzki, D., B.H. Hall and Oriani, R. (2006) ‘Market Valuation of Knowledge Assets in US and European Firms’, downloaded from, published in The Management of Intellectual Property, edited by D Bosworth and E. Webster, pp. 111-131, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Davies, J. and Hoy, M. (1995) 'Making inequality comparisons when Lorenz curves intersect', The American Economic Review, 85/4, pp.980-986.

Evidence. (2007) The use of bibliometrics to measure research quality in UK higher education institutions. (London, UK: Universities UK).

Gollier, C (2001) The Economics of Risk and Time, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hadar, J. and Russell, W.R. (1969) 'Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects, American Economic Review, 59, pp.25-34.

Hall, B.H. (2005) ‘Measuring the Returns to R&D: The Depreciation Problem’, Annales d’Ėconomie et de Statistique, 79/80, pp.341-381.

Holden DSW, G. Rosenberg, G. and Barker K. (2005) ‚‘Social Work in Health Care’, Bibliometrics, 41/3-4, pp.67-92.

Jackson, M.O. and Rogers B.W. (2007) 'Meeting strangers and friends of friends: How random are social networks', The American Economic Review, 97/3, pp.890-915.

Jaffe, A.B., Trajtenberg, M. and Henderson R. (1993) 'Geographic localization of knowledge spillovers as evidenced by patent citation', Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108, pp. 577-598.

Järvelin, K. and Persson, O. (2008) 'The PCI-Index: Discounted cumulated impact-based research evaluation', Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59/9, pp. 1433-1440.

Jin, B.H., Liang, L-M., Rousseau, R. and Egghe, L. (2007) 'The R and AR-indices: Complementing the h-index', Chinese Science Bulletin, 52/6, pp.855-863.

Kim, J.Y., Min, I., and Zimmermann, C. (2011), ‘The economics of citation’, Korean Economic Review, 27(1), 93-114.

Kreps, D.M. (1990) A Course in Microeconomic Theory, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hertfordshire.

Levitt, J.M. and Thelwall, M. (2011), ‘A Combined Bibliometric Indicator to Predict Article Impact’, Information Processing and Management, 47, pp. 300-8.

Mehta A., Rysman M. and Simcoe, T. (2010) 'Identifying the age Profile of Patent citations: New estimates of knowledge diffusion', Journal of Applied Econometrics, 25, pp.1179-1204.

Nederhof, A. J. (2006) 'Bibliometric monitoring of research performance in the Social Sciences and the Humanities: A review', Scientometrics, 66/1, pp. 81-100.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2010 'Performance-based funding for public research in tertiary education institutions Workshop Proceedings' (OECD Publishing),

Rahko, J. (2014), ‘Market Value of R&D, patents and Organizational capital: Finnish Evidence, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 24:4, pp.353-377.

Ravallion, M. and Wagstaff, A. (2011), ‘On measuring scholarly influence by citations’, Scientometrics, 88/1, 321-337.

Redner, S. (2005) 'Citation statistics from 110 years of Physical Review', Physics Today, 58, pp. 49-54.

Rothschild, M. and Stiglitz, J.E. (1970) 'Increasing risk: 1. A definition', Journal of Economic Theory, 2/3, pp.225-243.

Sah, R.K. and Stiglitz, J.E. (1986), 'The architecture of economic systems: Hierarchies and polyarchies', The American Economic Review, 76/4, pp.716-728.

Stern, D.I. (2014) 'High-ranked social science journal articles can be identified from early citation information', PLoS ONE, 9 (11), art. E112520.

Time Higher Education (THE) (2011) 'At the heart of the higher education debate' (THE), Education. http://www.timeshigher

Wang, D., Song, C. and Barabási, A-L. (2013) 'Quantifying Long-Terms Scientific Impact', Science, 324, pp.127-132.

Web of Knowledge (WoK) (2012) 'Journal citation reports', (WoK),

Zimmermann, C. (2013) 'Academic Rankings with RePEc', Econometrics, 1/3, pp. 249-280.


E-ISSN 2038-1379 -  2009-2023 University of Perugia