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Eponymy and Delayed Recognition: the case of Otto Warburg Nobel Prize

  • Gorry, Philippe
  • Ragouet, Pascal
Publication Date
Sep 02, 2019
Kaleidoscope Open Archive
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Eponymy is defined as the way to name a discovery from the name of the person who discovered it. This practice well established in science. There is evidence that when an author has been eponymized, the author’s original publications will be cited without bibliographic reference. Merton defined this as “obliteration by incorporation”. The author’s original publications will experience “delayed recognition”, not achieving recognition in terms of citations until a few years after their original publication. While this phenomenon has been the subject of a renewal interest in scientometrics, there are few analyses of eponymy in science, and none explored the linked between eponymy and delayed recognition. Through the analysis of “cancer research” field, we identified a case study related to Otto Warburg Nobel Prize pioneering work on the role of metabolism in cancer, today named “Warburg effect”. Our results demonstrate that “Warburg effect” as concept suffered from delayed recognition in terms of citation, and that delayed recognition of Warburg’s publication is not due to a phenomenon of “obliteration by incorporation”. In a general way, our results imply that delayed recognition phenomena should be extended to scientific concept and not limited to a single or a bundle of publications.

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