Matthew’s influence – the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer – is also reflected in the scientific literature. says Charles Gomez, a sociologist and data analyst at the City University of New York. He and two American colleagues analyzed 20 million scientific publications, spread over 150 disciplines, during the period 1980-2012. in Their article appeared this week in The nature of human behavior They describe the direction in which they are citational . lens For contact: quote through the lens.
Publications from countries such as the United States, China, the Netherlands and Switzerland are disproportionately cited. Publications from Turkey, Brazil and Mexico, for example, are disproportionately few. Even if they are about the same topics. Over time, the most frequently cited core countries (31 countries) and peripheries (147 countries) will diverge more and more. This is evident in physics and mathematics. The researchers corrected the increase in the number of scientific journals.
“As a result, knowledge from certain countries is less integrated into global science than you would expect based on the topic,” Gomez said by email. So knowledge spreads less well than expected.
Subsidies and prizes
The number of times a publication is cited has become an important indicator of high-quality research in recent decades. The often cited scholar is given subsidies and prizes more easily. “And with subsidies and prizes, they make even bigger profits,” Gomez wrote.
This citation index also plays an important role in the ranking of universities and scholarly journals. “Although it has long been proven that it is not an ideal measure of quality,” Vincent Tragg, who researches citation networks at Leiden University’s Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), replies a published study. Scholars can cite their own research or that of a disproportionately limited network of knowledge in the citation list. Scientific journals are valued if researchers mention previous papers from the same journal in their reference lists.
One of the countries that stands out in the citation analysis is China. “His meteoric rise” writes Gomez. Gomez does not dare to say the reason for this “exaggeration”.
Although the science has been internationalized, researchers still often work together in local contexts, Traag says. Often within the same institution or city. Plus, so much is being published these days that a researcher can’t keep up with it all. “So there is a possibility that a researcher from the Netherlands may be less familiar with the work than, for example, Brazil.” Gomez also mentions the “disturbing potential” of bias and stereotypes. “For example, the idea that research from a less well-known country would also be of lower quality.”
A version of this article also appeared in the June 4, 2022 newspaper