Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Higher on the list means more citations

Yesterday, when I was doing my daily routine of checking new hep-th papers on the arXiv, I came across this article: "Positional effects on citation and readership in arXiv". For anyone who will post some papers on the arXiv this is a must-read. The authors confirm that the higher your paper is on the list of daily announcements, the more likely it will get a better long-term citation record:
"We confirm and extend a surprising correlation between article position in these initial announcements, ordered by submission time, and later citation impact, due primarily to intentional "self-promotion" on the part of authors. A pure "visibility" effect was also present: the subset of articles accidentally in early positions fared measurably better in the long-term citation record than those lower down."
How do you get on the top of the announcement list? It's easy: submit a paper right after the deadline of the day before. And the deadline is 16.00 US Easter Time, which is 22.00 here in The Netherlands. To be brutally honest, I don't stay in the office until that late in the evening, but for it is a small price to pay for more citations.

It's a silly mechanism. Luckily, the authors suggest that
"(...) arXiv subject area organization and interface design should be reconsidered either to utilize or to counter such unintentional biases."
As they're both affiliated to Cornell, let's hope they have some leverage to indeed push for some much-needed interface changes at the arXiv.