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As we know, today, citations of an academic get lots of attentions about whether his research is impfactful. I am just wondering what is the history of citation numbers becoming this important? When were they first calculated and whose idea was this?

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    Science Citations Index (SCI) was the first reference source that provided a way to find the publications in which a scientific paper was cited. SCI began in 1964. SCI existed only in paper form until it went online as the Web of Science in 1997. Statistics like citation counts and the H-index really weren't practical until the turn of the 21st century. – Brian Borchers Oct 5 at 21:41
  • @BrianBorchers can you just add that as an answer, so I can mark it as the correct answer? Thank you very much. – milad aghajohari Oct 7 at 0:27
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Science Citations Index (SCI) was the first reference source that provided a way to find the publications in which a scientific paper was cited. SCI began in 1964. SCI existed only in paper form until it went online as the Web of Science in 1997. Statistics like citation counts and the H-index really weren't practical until the turn of the 21st century

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I would like to draw your attention to similar issues in admission. GRE or SAT content have little to do with what one does in the University. However, they are used to reduce a large number of applicants to lower levels. In essence it is a measurable and comparable criteria to judge a person.

Citations and impact scores, roughly, used to judge people swiftly. I believe, it can be wildly inaccurate and unjust.

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    And lead to bad behavior. I'll cite you if you cite me!!! – Buffy Oct 5 at 21:28
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    @buffy I speculate this even might drive people away from less hot topics and punish them for looking into cold topics. I haven't seen any examples of people elliminating research fields by their activeness but wouldn't be suprised if anyone considered it. – Boaty Mcboatface Oct 5 at 21:50
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    Well, there are lots of ways to waste a life, I suppose. Do good work. Find an environment in which you can continue to do it. Get good letters of recommendation. The universities trying to game the system probably aren't where you want to work, I think. Can you spell "collateral damage"? – Buffy Oct 5 at 22:29
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    While it is a common trope among academicians to bash citation counts, the reality is of course that they're never used in isolation. They're just one component of an evaluation, and for that they're quite useful. It's just a cheap shot to complain about them -- because in reality the same could be said about any other metric as well, leaving us unable to evaluate anyone. What makes evaluations possible and fair is the combination of all of these metrics. – Wolfgang Bangerth Oct 5 at 23:50
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    The universities trying to game the system probably aren't where you want to work, I think — Careful. I'm not aware of any universities that aren't at least trying to improve or maintain various rankings. Whether that effort constitutes "gaming" is a matter of debate. – JeffE Oct 6 at 17:24

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