9.3.2 Baselines for ISI citations in particular fields

The slow take up of citations as displayed in the above examples is by no means unusual. ISI's database “Essential Science Indicators Baselines” provides the number of citations one can expect an article in a particular discipline to have at a certain point in time.

If you had published an article in an ISI listed journal in Economics & Business in 2009 that at the 1st of May 2010 had even just one ISI citation, your article would already be in the top 20% most cited articles. Four citations would even put it in the top 1% most cited articles. Obviously, for articles published in earlier years the number of citations to be in the top 20%/1% will go up.

However, a paper published in an ISI listed journal in Computer Science in 2004 with only one citation would still be in the top 50% of most-cited papers for that, i.e. the lack of a significant number of citations would be quite normal. Thus, even though you wouldnt be able convince your tenure or promotion committee your ISI citation record is stellar; if you work in these fields you should be able to convince them that your lack of a significant number of citations is quite normal.

In fact, in Economics & Business, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics and the Social Sciences/General even for papers in ISI listed journals that are 10 years old two to four ISI citations are enough to put an article in the top 50% most cited papers in their fields. As discussed in detail in Chapter 16, this is partly due to the lack of comprehensive coverage of ISI in these disciplines. However, it is also due to differences in citation behavior across fields. To be in the top 50% most cited articles in Molecular Biology & Genetics, you would need your 10-year old paper to have 22 citations at the 1st of May 2010, whilst 64 are needed to be in the top 20%.