Journal of Informetrics
Volume 10, Issue 1, February 2016, Pages 1–8
The advantage of simple paper abstracts
Adrian Letchford, , Tobias Preis, Helen Susannah Moat
Data Science Lab, Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, CV4 7AL, Coventry, UK
Received 16 June 2015, Revised 1 November 2015, Accepted 1 November 2015, Available online 13 December 2015
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• We investigate whether or not the style of a scientific paper's abstract bears any relation to the number of times that paper is cited.
• We find that papers whose abstracts contain more frequently used words tend to receive slightly more citations.
• We find that journals which publish papers whose abstracts are shorter and contain more frequently used words receive slightly more citations per paper.
Each year, researchers publish an immense number of scientific papers. While some receive many citations, others receive none. Here we investigate whether any of this variance can be explained by the choice of words in a paper's abstract. We find that doubling the word frequency of an average abstract increases citations by 0.70%. We also find that journals which publish papers whose abstracts are shorter and contain more frequently used words receive slightly more citations per paper. Specifically, adding a 5 letter word to an abstract decreases the number of citations by 0.02%. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the style in which a paper's abstract is written bears some relation to its scientific impact.
Keywords: Citation analysis; Scientific writing; Computational social science; Science of science
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