Blog / Other

How might scite impact early career researchers?

Thu Feb 23 2023

One question that we sometimes get is how scite might impact early career researchers (ECRs). For example, many metrics (e.g., the h-index) have a built-in bias against ECRs, as those in a given field for longer periods have more time to accumulate more citations, and in turn increase their score.

This obviously a thorny, multifaceted issue that is difficult to address in a blog post, as it encompasses the whole of the scholarly ecosystem, and involves incentive structures at every level, from funding, to graduate school admissions, to tenure and promotion decisions.

However, we think that with respect to this issue, scite can help make things better - not worse. Specifically, we think scite actually represents a way of doing science that is far more equitable than existing methods. There are two reasons why.

First, existing tools can sort/rank papers only on the sheer number of citations, without any consideration of the content of those citations. This system privileges older works (which, all things being equal, are bound to have more citations) by established researchers. However, by emphasizing the type of citations there are to a given paper, scite promotes quality rather than quantity, and can quickly surface papers that have not just been cited, but actually supported. Additionally, the ability to filter by year and generate visualizations and author summaries elevates authors whose work might otherwise go unnoticed. We believe this helps to surface both ECRs and their scholarship. In short, scite provides more nuance and context beyond superficial citation counts.

Second (and probably most importantly), we want to emphasize that ECRs are not just people whose work is being read or not read, cited or not cited - they are themselves active researchers who must seek out and read articles in their area. Given the amount of scholarship being produced, this is a huge task that scite helps address. It also helps solve a problem that is unique to ECRs, as well-established researchers are more likely to have well-developed professional networks and affiliations that alter them to new publications.

This is a somewhat personal issue for me, as I recall my early years of graduate school, trying to get a handle on a massive amount of research, and not knowing where to start. One thing that I found just short of terrifying was the idea of being caught off-guard having not read *the important paper*. scite helps ECRs by aiding their discovery of important scholarship and ensuring they have cited relevant works.

In the end, it is good that we are asking critical questions of new tools, metrics and approaches. Scite is new and we need to study the effects it has on reading, citation practices etc. We sit on a massive dataset with rich citation information. Many questions, including citation bias, can now be addressed in new ways: Do women authors receive more or less supporting citations? Do data availability statements lead to more methods citations or more supporting or contrasting citations? These are answerable questions and we encourage bibliometrics researchers to reach out to us for access to data so that we can work to answer them.

To this end, we will soon be announcing a new initiative to help ECRs conduct metascientific research using data from scite.