Do Copied Citations Create Renowned Papers?

Recently we discovered [see cond-mat/0212043] that the majority of citations in scientific papers are simply copied from the lists of references that appear in other papers. Here we show that a model, in which a scientist picks three random papers, cites them, and also copies a quarter of their references accounts quantitatively for empirically observed citation distribution. Simple mathematical probability, not genius, can explain why some papers are cited a lot more than the other.

(That’s an excerpt from the article “Do Copied Citations Create Renowned Papers?,” by M.V. Simkin and V.P. Roychowdhury, published in AIR 11:1.)

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