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Creativity in science and the link to cited references: Is the creative potential of papers reflected in their cited references?

Iman Tahamtan and Lutz Bornmann ()

Journal of Informetrics, 2018, vol. 12, issue 3, 906-930

Abstract: Several authors have proposed that a large number of unusual combinations of cited references in a paper point to its high creative potential (or novelty). However, it is still not clear whether the number of unusual combinations can really measure the creative potential of papers. The current study addresses this question on the basis of several case studies from the field of scientometrics. We identified some landmark papers in this field. Study subjects were the corresponding authors of these papers. We asked them where the ideas for the papers came from and which role the cited publications played. The results revealed that the creative ideas might not necessarily have been inspired by past publications. The literature seems to be important for the contextualization of the idea in the field of scientometrics. Instead, we found that creative ideas are the result of finding solutions to practical problems, result from discussions with colleagues, and profit from interdisciplinary exchange. The roots of the studied landmark papers are discussed in detail.

Keywords: Creativity; Novelty; Citation; Intelligence; Landmark paper; Cited reference; Breakthrough (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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