I’ve noticed a peculiar thing lately.

One of my collaborations over the years led to papers that seemed to garner a higher citation rate than other aspects of my work. At first it was ever so slightly disturbing that the collaborative papers got more attention, so I thought. Over time, as I grew to understand that citation is HUGELY skewed by field size and vigor I stopped worrying about such matters.

The funny thing is that my other papers have been catching up. Turns out that the collaborative work tended to have bigger initial splashes but much less staying power. Some of my other areas of interest have much lower initial citation rates in the first few years after the work was published. But the cites just keep ticking away at about the same low rate over time.

I find this gratifying. Sure, it would be nicer to have more people citing my work in the initial couple of years, anyone who says otherwise is nuts. But to have the work continue to be relevant to people’s scientific thinking over time is pretty important to me as well. So cite for cite, I think I’d actually prefer mine spread out more. Maybe even over a timeline as long as a decade.

So what about you folks? If you were forced to choose between initial big splash papers that disappeared and ones that had a slow and steady citation rate, which would you prefer? Which gratifies you more as a scientist?

What crossover point would you see as justifying slow/steady over big splash? Five years? Ten years? Twenty?

This is fantastic.

…CSR is piloting a new program that we call the early career reviewer, where we will take complete novice reviewers, people who have not reviewed for NIH before, very early in their career, probably new investigators.

More thoughts on the matter from Your Humble Narrator and Prof-Like Substance.