As a recently graduated researcher in the field of physics, I am in the early stages of establishing my scientific career, which involves being hired by senior researchers and professors. Much of the likelihood of being hired in a reputable group relies on my publication record and, for good or for bad, on my citation count.
I have always played a significant role in all the papers I have written or coauthored, which justified my inclusion in the list of authors. Thus I feel that I have earned the many or few citations to my papers.
In the context of a competitive mindset in which your quality is often (perhaps unfairly) measured by the number of citations your work has attracted, it has always bothered me how endless author lists from large collaborations boost the citation counts of those people. It is just a matter of common sense to assume that not all of them have significantly contributed to a paper. I am thinking especially about particle-physics collaborations, such as LHC at CERN. As an example, take this highly cited paper with a couple of hundred authors sharing authorship. The same or very similar author lists appear in several other highly cited articles. I am sure most of these are highly capable and competent researchers, some of which are leaders in their field. But did they all really contributed enough to be credited as authors? Another question: how much is enough?
How can one trust the citation count model (whether it’s fair or not) when there are these collaboration-enhanced players in the game?
How much do professors and PIs rely on citation counts in order to make a decision on hiring a researcher?