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Brad Wray publishes "How is a revolutionary scientific paper cited?: the case of Hess’ 'History of Ocean Basins'"

Scientometrics, Online First, 25 May (2020)


I examine the citation patterns to a revolutionary scientific paper, Hess’ “History of Ocean Basins”, which played a significant role in the plate tectonics revolution in the geosciences. I test two predictions made by the geoscientist Menard (in Science: growth and change. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1971): (1) that the peak year of citations for Hess’ article will be 1968; and (2) that the rate of citations to the article will then reach some lower level, continuing on accumulating citations at some regular but unimpressive rate. Drawing on data covering the period from 1962 to 2019, I show that Menard was close with respect to the first prediction. But I also show that things are less clear with respect to the second prediction. I explain why the data are less clear with respect to the second prediction.