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It’s a small world in Palaeontology

June 6th, 2011 | Posted by rmounce in Palaeontology

What’s your Norell number?

Taking inspiration from the Erdős number game, I thought I’d use ColWiz‘s ‘Link Explorer’ function, and my citeulike bibliographic data to explore (in a highly unscientific way!) the authorship connections between people in my reference database of ~2750 papers.

Mark A Norell has LOADS of publications. Not too surprising considering he works at the AMNH (without doubt the best palaeontological research institute in the world if one measures by number of publications and/or Impact Factor).

How many authorship connections does he have? In my library I have just 35 of his innumerate publications. Just a small sample of what he’s truly published. In these 35 publications (mostly vertebrate phylogeny related stuff, 2000-present) he has a total of ~55 different co-authors.

I would like to have calculated this exactly but sadly ColWiz only provides a visual exploration with no quantitation.

So his 1st order co-author relationships according to my (limited) data look like this:
1storder

Now it gets interesting… What about the 2nd order relations. The co-authors of co-authors of his (according to my limited bib-library). Here’s the result of this below. *wow*

2ndorder

Far, far too many authors to count manually! From this I’d guess that no published palaeontologist with more than say 3 papers has a Norell number greater than 5.

Does anyone know any good, FREE, quantitative bibliometric software that would actually calculate some of this for me, rather than just providing pretty (but fairly meaningless) vizualisations?

Could there be a better candidate for the linkman in palaeontology? On Facebook, Dave Godfrey suggested Romer, Halstead, or Ostrom. They’re great suggestions but I’m looking for a good link-point for 21st century palaeontology tbh. So Norell it is!

Anyway, back to *proper* work…

PS If one counts my Open Letter as a publication then I have a Norell number of 3 (via co-authorship with Graeme Lloyd who has a Norell number of 2). If one only counts my soon to be published paper with my supervisor then my Norell number is 4 (Ross Mounce -> Matthew Wills -> Paul Barrett -> Diego Pol -> Norell). Some of my friends e.g. Shaena Montanari are lucky enough to have the lowest Norell number possible already -> 1. It’s a small world…

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