16 February 2006

Did you read this paper ?

Following a post in Nodal Point, I found this paper:
Read before you cite by Simkin & al.
We report a method of estimating what percentage of people who cited a paper had actually read it. The method is based on a stochastic modeling of the citation process that explains empirical studies of misprint distributions in citations (which we show follows a Zipf law). Our estimate is only about 20% of citers read the original.

For example, an interesting statistic revealed in our study is that a lot of misprints are identical. Consider, for example, a 4-digit page number with one digit misprinted. There can be 104 such misprints. The probability of repeating someone else’s misprint accidentally is10-4 . There should be almost no repeat misprints by coincidence. One concludes that repeat misprints are due to copying some one else’s reference, without reading the paper in question.

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