Last post I mentioned the Matthew Effect, or "The rich get richer." In Bibliometrics, it means that the more you're cited and/or the more you publish, the more you'll continue to get cited/publish. When applied to journals, that means that papers published in high-impact journals get cited more often. As a result, the IF of the journals remains high, and so on. In short, a positive feedback loop.
They compared the average numbers of citations and average of relative citations for disciplines with more than 30 duplicates. The biggest Matthew Effect was found in the clinical medicine (21.46 for high IF, 12.08 for low IF) and Biomedical Research. (19.77 and 8.15). Significant differences were also found for Chemistry, Engineering and Technology, Physics and Social Sciences. However, there weren’t significant differences for Biology, Earth and Space, Health (Social Sciences), Math and Psychology.
Personally, I wonder if part of the effect can be accounted for the pay walls: libraries tend to buy more subscriptions to high-impact journals, so the chances of getting access to a paper in one of those journals is higher.
Speaking of the Matthew Effect, John Wilbanks, vice president of science at Creative Commons, just published a short article in Seed Magazine about the subject. He points out that in 1968 (the year Merton named the “Matthew Effect”) “the average age of a biomedical researcher in the
Wilbanks recommends that we “start rethinking the way we reward and fund science and assess researchers using more than just citations.”
All I can say, Mr. Wilbanks, is that Bibliometricans are working on it…
P.S. Of course, as soon as I finished this post I ran into this post in The Scholarly Kitchen about the very same paper. Oh, well.