Characteristics Associated with Citation Rate of the Medical Literature
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BACKGROUND: The citation rate for articles is viewed as a measure of their importance and impact; however, little is known about what features of articles are associated with higher citation rate. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a cohort study of all original articles, regardless of study methodology, published in the Lancet, JAMA, and New England Journal of Medicine, from October 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000. We identified 328 articles. Two blinded, independent reviewers extracted, in duplicate, nine variables from each article, which were analyzed in both univariable and multivariable linear least-squares regression models for their association with the annual rate of citations received by the article since publication. A two-way interaction between industry funding and an industry-favoring result was tested and found to be significant (p = 0.02). In our adjusted analysis, the presence of industry funding and an industry-favoring result was associated with an increase in annual citation rate of 25.7 (95% confidence interval, 8.5 to 42.8) compared to the absence of both industry funding and industry-favoring results. Higher annual rates of citation were also associated with articles dealing with cardiovascular medicine (13.3 more; 95% confidence interval, 3.9 to 22.3) and oncology (12.6 more; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 24.0), articles with group authorship (11.1 more; 95% confidence interval, 2.7 to 19.5), larger sample size and journal of publication. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Large trials, with group authorship, industry-funded, with industry-favoring results, in oncology or cardiology were associated with greater subsequent citations.
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