High-ranked social science journal articles can be identified from early citation information.
Do citations accumulate too slowly in the social sciences to be used to assess the quality of recent articles? I investigate whether this is the case using citation data for all articles in economics and political science published in 2006 and indexed in the Web of Science. I find that citations in the first two years after publication explain more than half of the variation in cumulative citations received over a longer period. Journal impact factors improve the correlation between the predicted and actual future ranks of journal articles when using citation data from 2006 alone but the effect declines sharply thereafter. Finally, more than half of the papers in the top 20% in 2012 were already in the top 20% in the year of publication (2006).
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