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The value of negative citations

Understanding which papers attract critical citations, and what effect they have, gives an insight into how science progresses, says Christian Catalini.

Science advances through researchers sharing their work for others to extend or improve. As Isaac Newton once said, he could see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

But what happens when those shoulders aren’t as sturdy as we thought? Sometimes, citations are negative, pointing out a study’s flaws or even disproving its findings. What role, relevance and impact do these negative citations have on a field as a whole?

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