Quantifying the changing role of past publications

Katalin Orosz, I. Farkas, Péter Pollner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Our current societies increasingly rely on electronic repositories of collective knowledge. An archetype of these databases is the Web of Science (WoS) that stores scientific publications. In contrast to several other forms of knowledge—e.g., Wikipedia articles—a scientific paper does not change after its “birth”. Nonetheless, from the moment a paper is published it exists within the evolving web of other papers, thus, its actual meaning to the reader changes. To track how scientific ideas (represented by groups of scientific papers) appear and evolve, we apply a novel combination of algorithms explicitly allowing for papers to change their groups. We (1) identify the overlapping clusters of the undirected yearly co-citation networks of the WoS (1975–2008) and (2) match these yearly clusters (groups) to form group timelines. After visualizing the longest lived groups of the entire data set we assign topic labels to all groups. We find that in the entire WoS multidisciplinarity is clearly over-represented among cutting edge ideas. In addition, we provide detailed examples for papers that (1) change their topic labels and (2) move between groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 17 2016



  • Article co-citation network
  • Group dynamics
  • Multidisciplinarity
  • Tag extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law

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