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The effect of interdisciplinary components' citation intensity on scientific impact

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This study explores whether interdisciplinary components' citation intensity (ICCI) affects papers' scientific impact. In this study, the term “interdisciplinary components” refers to the disciplines that are different from the discipline to which the target research belongs. The citation intensity is the degree of density or sparseness of the paper citation network for a discipline. Previous studies have shown that the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research is influenced by interdisciplinarity and its properties, namely, variety, balance and disparity. However, the effect of ICCI on scientific impact has not been comprehensively explored.


This study is based on the entire publication database of the Web of Science for the year 2000, where the authors provide an indicator to measure the ICCI of each publication. A tobit regression model is used to examine the effect of ICCI on scientific impact, controlling for a range of variables associated with the characteristics of the publications studied.


The results show that ICCI has a positive effect on scientific impact. The authors’ results further point out that ICCI displays a curvilinear inverted U-shape relationship with scientific impact. It means that including more citation-intensive interdisciplinary components can increase the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research. However, excessive use of citation-intensive interdisciplinary components may reduce the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research.


This study shows that, in addition to interdisciplinarity, the scientific impact of interdisciplinary research is also affected by the citation characteristics of interdisciplinary components, namely ICCI.

Keywords: Citation intensity; Interdisciplinarity; Interdisciplinary components; Interdisciplinary research; Scientific impact; Tobit regression model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Chinese Academy of Science and Education Evaluation (CASEE), Hangzhou Dianzi University, Hangzhou, China 2: School of Management, Hangzhou Dianzi University, Hangzhou, China 3: École de Bibliothéconomie et des Sciences de l’information, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Publication date: November 11, 2021

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