May 29, 2022

New Research Article: Citation Analysis: “Attention Decay in Science”

The following preprint (submitted to an Elsevier publication) was shared on arXiv yesterday. It was written by researchers from Aalto University School of Science in Finland, Robert Bosch in California, and the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Labs also in California.


Attention Decay in Science


Pietro Della Briotta Paroloa
Aalto University School of Science

Raj Kumar Pana
Aalto University School of Science

Rumi Ghosh
Robert Bosch LLC

Bernardo A. Huberman
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Labs

Kimmo Kaskia
Aalto University School of Science

Santo Fortunato
Aalto University School of Science




The exponential growth in the number of scientific papers makes it increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of all the publications relevant to their work. Consequently, the attention that can be devoted to individual papers, measured by their citation counts, is bound to decay rapidly.

In this work we make a thorough study of the life-cycle of papers in different disciplines. Typically, the citation rate of a paper increases up to a few years after its publication, reaches a peak and then decreases rapidly. This decay can be described by an exponential or a power law behavior, as in ultradiffusive processes, with exponential fitting better than power law for the majority of cases.

The decay is also becoming faster over the years, signaling that nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly. However, when time is counted in terms of the number of published papers, the rate of decay of citations is fairly independent of the period considered. This indicates that the attention of scholars depends on the number of published items, and not on real time.

Direct to Full Text Article (12 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.