Cost/benefit per article/citation

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 22:26:18 +0100 (BST)

On Sun, 17 Apr 2005, Mike Kurtz wrote:

> I am away so I cannot work this out, but the cost per refereed paper in
> astronomy is between 0.5 and 1 Million $US. This just takes the number
> of refereed pubs and divides into the 6-7 G$ cost of the field per year.
> It is $1M if you only take the main joutrnals.
> If each article references 20 papers (a good guess, I can do beter
> when home) then > the value of each cite is _at_5-50 thousand $ NOT $500.

Dear Mike,

Thanks so much. That's a very interesting and useful calculation, but
not quite what I meant! You are there giving the *cost* per article (or
citation), whereas I was asking about the *value* (benefit, return) per
article and citation (for those whose salaries and/or research funding
covary with article and citation counts).

Hal Varian (many thanks Hal!) construed my query in the direction I had
intended, and replied with the 4 references below. A 20 year old study
across fields by Diamond found the marginal value of a citation to vary
from $50 to $1300, depending on the discipline and its annual number of
annual articles per author, and depending also on whether it is for the
1st citation (above 0) or the Nth.

It would be wonderful to have a more recent estimate of the marginal
dollar value per citation (to the author and/or the author's institution),
across disciplines, now that we are in the online age! (That would help
me translate the OA citation advantage into the only language that
everyone seems to understand: dollars!)

Chrs, S
PS (Even for the cost per article (or citation), I would rather divide the
number of articles published annually by astro journals into the total
annual revenue of astor journals. There I think the average cost is
about $2000 per article (of which only about 25% is for implementing
peer review, which I think is the only essential cost: the rest could be
scrapped, the journal doing and certifying the outcome of the peer
review, and all archiving and access-provision offloaded onto that
author's institution (and funder).)

Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2005 16:19:09 UT
Subject: value of a citation

There's a reasonable amount of work in this area. Here are a few JSTOR

Title: Economists' Salaries and Lifetime Productivity
Author(s): Lawrence W. Kenny; Roger E. Studley
Source: Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 62, No. 2. (Oct., 1995),
                     pp. 382-393.
Stable URL:

Title: What is a Citation Worth?
Author(s): Arthur M. Diamond Jr.
Source: The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 21, No. 2. (Spring,
                     1986), pp. 200-215.
Abstract: A robust finding in all studies is that citations are a
                     positive and significant determinant of earnings over
                     almost all of the observed range of citation levels. The
                     marginal value of a citation (when the level of citations
                     is zero) varies between $50 and $1,300. Some
                     differences in marginal values may be due to differences
                     in citation practices among disciplines while others may
                     be due to differences among the studies in the control
                     variables included in the salary regressions. Finally, no
                     gain in explanatory power results from the inclusion in
                     the salary regression of the costly nonfirst-author
                     citation measure.

Title: Estimates of the Returns to Quality and Coauthorship in
                     Economic Academia
Author(s): Raymond D. Sauer
Source: The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 96, No. 4. (Aug.,
                     1988), pp. 855-866.
Stable URL:
Abstract: Salaries of academic economists are studied to determine
                     if individuals receive differential returns to publishing
                     articles of varying quality and to coauthored versus
                     single-authored articles. Estimates based on detailed data
                     and a flexible nonlinear least-squares procedure indicate
                     that substantial returns to quality exist and that an
                     individual's return from a coauthored paper with n authors
                     is approximately 1/n times that of a single-authored

Title: Scholarship, Citations and Salaries: Economic Rewards in
Author(s): Daniel S. Hamermesh; George E. Johnson; Burton A.
Source: Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 49, No. 2. (Oct., 1982),
                     pp. 472-481.
Stable URL:
Received on Mon Apr 18 2005 - 22:26:18 BST

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