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Discontinuities in Citation Relations among Journals:  

Self-organized Criticality as a Model of Scientific Revolutions and 
Change <>

Using three-year moving averages of the complete Journal Citation 
Reports 1994-2016 of the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences 
Citation Index (combined), we analyze links between citing and cited 
journals in terms of (1) whether discontinuities among the networks of 
consecutive years have occurred; (2) are these discontinuities 
relatively isolated or networked? (3) Can these discontinuities be used 
as indicators of novelty, change, and innovation in the sciences? We 
examine each of the N2 links among the N journals across the years. We 
find power-laws for the top 10,000 instances of change, which we suggest 
interpreting in terms of “self-organized criticality”: co-evolutions of 
avalanches in aggregated citation relations and meta-stable states in 
the knowledge base can be expected to drive the sciences towards the 
edges of chaos. The flux of journal-journal citations in new manuscripts 
may generate an avalanche in the meta-stable networks, but one can 
expect the effects to remain local (for example, within a specialty). 
The avalanches can be of any size; they reorient the relevant citation 
environments by inducing a rewrite of history in the affected 
Loet Leydesdorff,*[1] <#_ftn1> Caroline S. Wagner,[2] <#_ftn2> and Lutz 
Bornmann[3] <#_ftn3>

[1] <#_ftnref1> *corresponding author; Amsterdam School of Communication 
Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam

PO Box 15793, 1001 NG Amsterdam, The Netherlands; [log in to unmask]

[2] <#_ftnref2> John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State 
University, Columbus, Ohio, USA, 43210; [log in to unmask]

[3] <#_ftnref3> Division for Science and Innovation Studies, 
Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society, Hofgartenstr. 8, 
80539 Munich, Germany; [log in to unmask]

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