Universality of citation distributions for academic institutions and journals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0146762
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Arnab Chatterjee
  • Asim Ghosh
  • Bikas K. Chakrabarti

Research units

  • Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics
  • Indian Statistical Institute


Citations measure the importance of a publication, and may serve as a proxy for its popularity and quality of its contents. Here we study the distributions of citations to publications from individual academic institutions for a single year. The average number of citations have large variations between different institutions across the world, but the probability distributions of citations for individual institutions can be rescaled to a common form by scaling the citations by the average number of citations for that institution. We find this feature seems to be universal for a broad selection of institutions irrespective of the average number of citations per article. A similar analysis for citations to publications in a particular journal in a single year reveals similar results. We find high absolute inequality for both these sets, Gini coefficients being around 0.66 and 0.58 for institutions and journals respectively. We also find that the top 25% of the articles hold about 75% of the total citations for institutions and the top 29% of the articles hold about 71% of the total citations for journals.

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