The following paper was written by the co-founders of Google Scholar, Anurag Acharya and Alex Verstak, along with other Google engineers.
The research utilizes data from Google Scholar.
Cliff Chiung Yu Lin
Affiliation: Google Inc. (All Authors)
In this paper, we examine the evolution of the impact of non-elite journals. We attempt to answer two questions. First, what fraction of the top-cited articles are published in non-elite journals and how has this changed over time. Second, what fraction of the total citations are to non-elite journals and how has this changed over time.
We studied citations to articles published in 1995-2013. We computed the 10 most-cited journals and the 1000 most-cited articles each year for all 261 subject categories in Scholar Metrics. We marked the 10 most-cited journals in a category as the elite journals for the category and the rest as non-elite.
There are two conclusions from our study. First, the fraction of top-cited articles published in non-elite journals increased steadily over 1995-2013. While the elite journals still publish a substantial fraction of high-impact articles, many more authors of well-regarded papers in diverse research fields are choosing other venues.
The number of top-1000 papers published in non-elite journals for the representative subject category went from 149 in 1995 to 245 in 2013, a growth of 64%. Looking at broad research areas, 4 out of 9 areas saw at least one-third of the top-cited articles published in non-elite journals in 2013. For 6 out of 9 areas, the fraction of top-cited papers published in non-elite journals for the representative subject category grew by 45% or more.
Second, now that finding and reading relevant articles in non-elite journals is about as easy as finding and reading articles in elite journals, researchers are increasingly building on and citing work published everywhere. Considering citations to all articles, the percentage of citations to articles in non-elite journals went from 27% in 1995 to 47% in 2013. Six out of nine broad areas had at least 50% of citations going to articles published in non-elite journals in 2013.
Direct to Full Text Research Paper (11 pages; PDF)