This paper looks at how citations are perceived among scientists. Based on a questionnaire survey it traces the repertoire of views and experiences about citations that could be found among Norwegian scientists that had published highly cited papers. Their views circle around three issues: the relation between the quality (or importance or significance) of a paper and its citation history; the importance of visibility and how different sorts of factors play a role in determining citation in general and high citation in particular; and the fairness (or lack of fairness) of the system. Taken together, the respondents' answers and comments offer an informal (and fragmented) sociology of citations and their role in the world of science. In the final section we discuss the relevance of our findings in respect to the increasing use of citation indicators in science policy and research evaluations.
Citations Citation indicators Highly cited articles Sociology of citations Quality
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