The “Mendel syndrome” in science: durability of scientific literature and its effects on bibliometric analysis of individual scientists
The obsolescence and “durability” of scientific literature have been important elements of debate during many years, especially regarding the proper calculation of bibliometric indicators. The effects of “delayed recognition” on impact indicators have importance and are of interest not only to bibliometricians but also among research managers and scientists themselves. It has been suggested that the “Mendel syndrome” is a potential drawback when assessing individual researchers through impact measures. If publications from particular researchers need more time than “normal” to be properly acknowledged by their colleagues, the impact of these researchers may be underestimated with common citation windows. In this paper, we answer the question whether the bibliometric indicators for scientists can be significantly affected by the Mendel syndrome. Applying a methodology developed previously for the classification of papers according to their durability (Costas et al., J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol 61(8):1564–1581, 2010a ; J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol 61(2):329–339, 2010b ), the scientific production of 1,064 researchers working at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in three different research areas has been analyzed. Cases of potential “Mendel syndrome” are rarely found among researchers and these cases do not significantly outperform the impact of researchers with a standard pattern of reception in their citations. The analysis of durability could be included as a parameter for the consideration of the citation windows used in the bibliometric analysis of individuals.