Lotka's law and productivity index of authors in a scientific journal

J Oral Sci. 2000 Jun;42(2):75-8. doi: 10.2334/josnusd.42.75.


Lotka's law of scientific productivity is a bibliometric example: the number of authors against the number of contributions made by the authors was plotted on a logarithmic scale. The points were closely scattered around a straight line having a slope of -2. The purpose of this study was to apply information technology to real-world data and to quantify the extent of the bibliometric regularity that exists in the literature of dental science. We have analyzed the productivity index of authors (PI) in a scientific journal (Journal of American Dental Association). Details of a total of 4,088 papers published between 1966 and 1995 were extracted electronically from MEDLINE. The total number of authors was 5,589, responsible for 8,569 authorships. Only 0.8% of the authors presented a PI > = 1 (large producers), and 78.1% a PI = 0 (occasional authors). The number of authors publishing N papers was 1/N2.64 of those publishing one paper. The result suggested that repeated publications in the Journal were more difficult than those predicted by Lotka (1/N2).

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • American Dental Association
  • Authorship*
  • Bibliometrics
  • Dentistry
  • Efficiency*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Information Science
  • Models, Statistical
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Publishing
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States