‘Sleeping Beauties’ of Geomorphology: cases from the Journal of Geology

To recap from a previous post:

“Most papers in disciplinary geomorphology journals are cited at some point, but citations to papers do not always accrue immediately upon publication — ideas and papers might take time to be used by researchers and therefore cited. Extreme examples of delayed recognition (‘Sleeping Beauties‘) — where papers receive no citations for long stretches of time only to receive a large, late burst in citations — have been identified and investigated previously.

Do geomorphology ‘Sleeping Beauties’ exist? Using the methods of Ke et al. (2015) to find and score ‘Sleeping Beauties’, it turns out that 9 out of the 20 most delayed papers in GSA Bulletin are focused on quantitative geomorphology. What other papers show this interesting signature of delayed recognition?”

Today I want to look for Sleeping Beauties in ‘The Journal of Geology‘. 

JG has been published since 1893, and has been the venue for some classic geomorphology papers (e.g., Wolman And Miller, 1960; Magnitude and Frequency of Forces in Geomorphic Processes; which i will discuss in a future post..)

In January 2017 I downloaded the citation time series for the 500 most cited journal of geology articles and used the algorithm of Ke et al. (2015) to find papers with the highest ‘delayed recognition’ score — a ranking of each paper’s citation time series based on the largest, latest peak (read Ke et al. (2015) to learn more about the method).

The top for papers, published from 1922 to 1935, are all focused on grain size and shape:

  1. Wentworth, C. K. (1922). A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. The Journal of Geology, 30(5), 377-392. (pdf here)
  2. Wadell, H. (1935). Volume, shape, and roundness of quartz particles. The Journal of Geology, 43(3), 250-280. (article here)
  3. Wadell, H. (1932). Volume, shape, and roundness of rock particles. The Journal of Geology, 40(5), 443-451. (article here)
  4. Wadell, H. (1933). Sphericity and roundness of rock particles. The Journal of Geology, 41(3), 310-331. (article here)

The citation time series for each paper is shown below:JG.jpg

As with the last post, I will not offer any ‘reasons’ why these papers have an explosion in citations in the past 10 years. To do this, a first step would be a careful look at co-citation networks — what papers often co-occur with the citations — and the actual in-text usages and citations.

I did a cursory look at co-cited papers, and all of the papers show an affinity to two recent well-cited papers:

  • Blott, S. J., & Pye, K. (2001). GRADISTAT: a grain size distribution and statistics package for the analysis of unconsolidated sediments. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26(11), 1237-1248. http://doi.org/10.1002/esp.261
  • Blott, S. J., & Pye, K. (2008). Particle shape: a review and new methods of characterization and classification. Sedimentology, 55(1), 31-63. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3091.2007.00892.x

Last I looked Blott and Pye (2001) was the most cited paper in ESPL, and is cited in a policy document, a rare occurrence for a geomorphology paper.


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