Peer Review History

Original SubmissionApril 25, 2021
Decision Letter - Roy Cerqueti, Editor

PONE-D-21-13673

Literary runaway: Increasingly more references cited per academic research article from 1980 to 2019

PLOS ONE

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Roy Cerqueti, Ph.D.

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

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Reviewers' comments:

Reviewer's Responses to Questions

Comments to the Author

1. Is the manuscript technically sound, and do the data support the conclusions?

The manuscript must describe a technically sound piece of scientific research with data that supports the conclusions. Experiments must have been conducted rigorously, with appropriate controls, replication, and sample sizes. The conclusions must be drawn appropriately based on the data presented.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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2. Has the statistical analysis been performed appropriately and rigorously?

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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The PLOS Data policy requires authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception (please refer to the Data Availability Statement in the manuscript PDF file). The data should be provided as part of the manuscript or its supporting information, or deposited to a public repository. For example, in addition to summary statistics, the data points behind means, medians and variance measures should be available. If there are restrictions on publicly sharing data—e.g. participant privacy or use of data from a third party—those must be specified.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: No

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4. Is the manuscript presented in an intelligible fashion and written in standard English?

PLOS ONE does not copyedit accepted manuscripts, so the language in submitted articles must be clear, correct, and unambiguous. Any typographical or grammatical errors should be corrected at revision, so please note any specific errors here.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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5. Review Comments to the Author

Please use the space provided to explain your answers to the questions above. You may also include additional comments for the author, including concerns about dual publication, research ethics, or publication ethics. (Please upload your review as an attachment if it exceeds 20,000 characters)

Reviewer #1: I appreciate the work done by all the autors. I do not find any short comings in the manuscript. First of all, the literature study is comprehensive and it covers the said topic. The language used is appropriate and upto the mark.

Reviewer #2: The manuscript "Literary runaway: Increasingly more references cited per academic research article from 1980 to 2019" presents an analysis of the average number of references in scientific citable papers. Eight subject categories are sampled for the time period 1980-2003 and thirty subject categories are analyzed for two years (2003 and 2019). Statistical analyses show an overall increasing number of references per paper on average over the years. Overall, the manuscript is well written and should be of interest to the readership of PLoS One. However, some improvements should be made before I can recommend publication of this manuscript.

The data are analyzed using R, and the authors pledge to make the data available upon acceptance. For the increasing benefit of the readers and to help reproducing the results, I would appreciate if the authors would share their R code with the readers.

I wonder if the authors could provide confidence intervals in the plots of Fig. 2.

Two of the sampled subject categories are Mathematics and Linguistics. These subject categories should be regarded as problematic for bibliometric treatment. A discussion about this is warranted.

The authors analyze all cited references and also cite previous work that analyzed all cited references in papers as far as I can see. DOI 10.1016/j.joi.2016.07.002 also investigated the growth of linked cited references within a three-year window. This might be interesting in this context as it shows that the increasing bulk of previous knowledge plus the recent knowledge is not the reason for the observed trend. Only the references to the recent knowledge are increasing on average over time, too.

Did the authors check if the average number of references is increasing for it is corrected for the increasing number of papers per year?

The last paragraph of the Discussion section in lines 400-402 starts with an irritating sentence: "In summary, we conducted this research in order to raise awareness about the fact that reference lists have continued to lengthen in the journal articles of many fields between 1980 and 2019." In the Introduction section, the authors mentioned selected previous studies that already raised the awareness to this fact. Furthermore, the new contribution of this study is testing of the two hypotheses that are mentioned in the end of the Introduction section.

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Reviewer #1: No

Reviewer #2: No

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Revision 1

Please see the uploaded document

Attachments
Attachment
Submitted filename: Response to reviewers.docx
Decision Letter - Roy Cerqueti, Editor

Literary runaway: Increasingly more references cited per academic research article from 1980 to 2019

PONE-D-21-13673R1

Dear Dr. Wang,

We’re pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been judged scientifically suitable for publication and will be formally accepted for publication once it meets all outstanding technical requirements.

Within one week, you’ll receive an e-mail detailing the required amendments. When these have been addressed, you’ll receive a formal acceptance letter and your manuscript will be scheduled for publication.

An invoice for payment will follow shortly after the formal acceptance. To ensure an efficient process, please log into Editorial Manager at http://www.editorialmanager.com/pone/, click the 'Update My Information' link at the top of the page, and double check that your user information is up-to-date. If you have any billing related questions, please contact our Author Billing department directly at authorbilling@plos.org.

If your institution or institutions have a press office, please notify them about your upcoming paper to help maximize its impact. If they’ll be preparing press materials, please inform our press team as soon as possible -- no later than 48 hours after receiving the formal acceptance. Your manuscript will remain under strict press embargo until 2 pm Eastern Time on the date of publication. For more information, please contact onepress@plos.org.

Kind regards,

Roy Cerqueti, Ph.D.

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

Additional Editor Comments (optional):

Reviewers' comments:

Reviewer's Responses to Questions

Comments to the Author

1. If the authors have adequately addressed your comments raised in a previous round of review and you feel that this manuscript is now acceptable for publication, you may indicate that here to bypass the “Comments to the Author” section, enter your conflict of interest statement in the “Confidential to Editor” section, and submit your "Accept" recommendation.

Reviewer #2: All comments have been addressed

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2. Is the manuscript technically sound, and do the data support the conclusions?

The manuscript must describe a technically sound piece of scientific research with data that supports the conclusions. Experiments must have been conducted rigorously, with appropriate controls, replication, and sample sizes. The conclusions must be drawn appropriately based on the data presented.

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

3. Has the statistical analysis been performed appropriately and rigorously?

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

4. Have the authors made all data underlying the findings in their manuscript fully available?

The PLOS Data policy requires authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception (please refer to the Data Availability Statement in the manuscript PDF file). The data should be provided as part of the manuscript or its supporting information, or deposited to a public repository. For example, in addition to summary statistics, the data points behind means, medians and variance measures should be available. If there are restrictions on publicly sharing data—e.g. participant privacy or use of data from a third party—those must be specified.

Reviewer #2: Yes

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5. Is the manuscript presented in an intelligible fashion and written in standard English?

PLOS ONE does not copyedit accepted manuscripts, so the language in submitted articles must be clear, correct, and unambiguous. Any typographical or grammatical errors should be corrected at revision, so please note any specific errors here.

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

6. Review Comments to the Author

Please use the space provided to explain your answers to the questions above. You may also include additional comments for the author, including concerns about dual publication, research ethics, or publication ethics. (Please upload your review as an attachment if it exceeds 20,000 characters)

Reviewer #2: (No Response)

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7. PLOS authors have the option to publish the peer review history of their article (what does this mean?). If published, this will include your full peer review and any attached files.

If you choose “no”, your identity will remain anonymous but your review may still be made public.

Do you want your identity to be public for this peer review? For information about this choice, including consent withdrawal, please see our Privacy Policy.

Reviewer #2: No

Formally Accepted
Acceptance Letter - Roy Cerqueti, Editor

PONE-D-21-13673R1

Literary runaway: Increasingly more references cited per academic research article from 1980 to 2019

Dear Dr. Wang:

I'm pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been deemed suitable for publication in PLOS ONE. Congratulations! Your manuscript is now with our production department.

If your institution or institutions have a press office, please let them know about your upcoming paper now to help maximize its impact. If they'll be preparing press materials, please inform our press team within the next 48 hours. Your manuscript will remain under strict press embargo until 2 pm Eastern Time on the date of publication. For more information please contact onepress@plos.org.

If we can help with anything else, please email us at plosone@plos.org.

Thank you for submitting your work to PLOS ONE and supporting open access.

Kind regards,

PLOS ONE Editorial Office Staff

on behalf of

Professor Roy Cerqueti

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

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