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On the categorization of scientific citation profiles in computer sciences

ABSTRACT

A common consensus in the literature is that the citation profile of published articles in general follows a universal pattern - an initial growth in the number of citations within the first two to three years after publication followed by a steady peak of one to two years and then a final decline over the rest of the lifetime of the article. This observation has long been the underlying heuristic in determining major bibliometric factors such as the quality of a publication, the growth of scientific communities, impact factor of publication venues etc. In this paper, we gather and analyze a massive dataset of scientific papers from the computer science domain and notice that the citation count of the articles over the years follows a remarkably diverse set of patterns - a profile with an initial peak (PeakInit), with distinct multiple peaks (PeakMul), with a peak late in time (PeakLate), that is monotonically decreasing (MonDec), that is monotonically increasing (MonIncr) and that can not be categorized into any of the above (Oth). We conduct a thorough experiment to investigate several important characteristics of these categories such as how individual categories attract citations, how the categorization is influenced by the year and the venue of publication of papers, how each category is affected by self-citations, the stability of the categories over time, and how much each of these categories contribute to the core of the network. Further, we show that the traditional preferential attachment models fail to explain these citation profiles. Therefore, we propose a novel dynamic growth model that takes both the preferential attachment and the aging factor into account in order to replicate the real-world behavior of various citation profiles. We believe that this paper opens the scope for a serious re-investigation of the existing bibliometric indices for scientific research.