A SIR epidemic model for citation dynamics
Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, Caixa Postal 369, 13560-970, São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil
Accepted: 5 February 2021
Published online: 12 February 2021
The study of citations in the scientific literature crosses the boundaries between the traditional branches of science and stands on its own as a most profitable research field dubbed the ‘science of science.’ Although the understanding of the citation histories of individual papers involves many intangible factors, the basic assumption that citations beget citations can explain most features of the empirical citation patterns. Here, we use the SIR epidemic model as a mechanistic model for the citation dynamics of well-cited papers published in selected journals of the American Physical Society. The estimated epidemiological parameters offer insight into unknown quantities as the size of the community that could cite a paper and its ultimate impact on that community. We find a good, though imperfect, agreement between the rank of the journals obtained using the epidemiological parameters and the impact factor rank.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021