Paper with delayed recognition

A paper with delayed recognition (or a "sleeping beauty") is a publication that received very little attention (receiving few citations) shortly after publication, but later receives a dramatic increase in citations. For example, an 1884 article by Charles Sanders Peirce[1] was rarely cited until about the year 2000, but has since garnered many citations.[2]

The phenomenon has been studied in bibliometrics and scientometrics.[3][4][5][6]

A 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded, after looking at over 22 million scientific papers of the prior 100 years, that "sleeping beauties are common", and seen even in the works of the most famous scientists. In particular, that a paper on an aspect of quantum mechanics that was published in 1935 by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, did not receive widespread attention until 1994.[7][8] In the top 15 such papers in science, identified in the study, the delay for recognition was often 50 to 100 years.[9]

Sleeping Beauties StudiesEdit

Since van Raan's 2004 paper, the Sleeping Beauties metaphor developed into more focused research area with investigations and comparative analyses of Sleeping Beauties in specific areas. The paper highlighted (1) depth of sleep, (2) length of the sleep and (3) awake intensity. A 'Sleeping Beauty' paper, asleep for an extended duration is awakened by a 'Prince'. The depth of sleep may be deep (very long) or light.

In 2020, Moodley, Hernández Serrano, Dijck and Dumontier[10] investigated the presence and features of sleeping beauties in case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union. Preliminary findings indicate that the B-coefficient[11] could be a potential candidate for an additional measure of case relevance in the legal sphere.

A recent investigation of Sleeping Beauties in Innovation Studies [12] found only 8 Sleeping Beauties out of 52,373 relevant papers obtained via the Web of Science. This study found that "highly influential authors and self-awakening mechanisms were critical triggers for bringing SBs into scientific notoriety".

Sleeping Beauties are found to be rather rare in Psychology. A recent study by Yuh-Shan Ho and James Hartley found only three sleeping beauties in 303,255 relevant psychology papers.[13]

Jian Du and Yishan Wu find that.[14] Du and Wu suggest that Sleeping Beauties "may need one or more Princes and even "retinues” to be “awakened.”

Recent findings by van Raan and Winnink, indicate that technological innovations are reducing the length of sleep period, especially as associated with patenting activities.[15] More so when waking is performed by a ‘technological prince'. A similar result was found in analyzing publications in medical research[16]


  1. ^ Peirce, C. S. (1884). "The numerical measure of the success of predictions". Science. 4 (93): 453–454. doi:10.1126/science.ns-4.93.453-a. PMID 17795531.
  2. ^ Van Calster, Ben (2012). "It takes time: A remarkable example of delayed recognition". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 63 (11): 2341–2344. doi:10.1002/asi.22732.
  3. ^ Costas, Rodrigo; Van Leeuwen, Thed N.; Van Raan, Anthony F.J. (2010). "Is scientific literature subject to a 'Sell-By-Date'? A general methodology to analyze the 'durability' of scientific documents". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 61 (2): 329. arXiv:0907.1455. doi:10.1002/asi.21244. S2CID 14363558.
  4. ^ Garfield, E. (1980). "Premature discovery or delayed recognition-Why?" (PDF). Essays of an Information Scientist. Vol. 4. pp. 488–493. ISBN 0-89495-012-6.
  5. ^ Glänzel, Wolfgang; Schlemmer, Balázs; Thijs, Bart (2003). "Better late than never? On the chance to become highly cited only beyond the standard bibliometric time horizon". Scientometrics. 58 (3): 571. doi:10.1023/B:SCIE.0000006881.30700.ea. S2CID 25286939.
  6. ^ Van Raan, Anthony F. J. (2004). "Sleeping Beauties in science". Scientometrics. 59 (3): 467–472. doi:10.1023/B:SCIE.0000018543.82441.f1. S2CID 189864678.
  7. ^ Bhanoo, Sindya N. (May 26, 2015). "Even Einstein Can Take Time to matter". Science Times. The New York Times. p. d4.
  8. ^ Qing Ke, Emilio Ferrara, Filippo Radicchi, and Alessandro Flammini (2015). "Defining and identifying Sleeping Beauties in science". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (24): 7426–7431. arXiv:1505.06454. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112.7426K. doi:10.1073/pnas.1424329112. PMC 4475978. PMID 26015563.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ Defining and identifying Sleeping Beauties in science Table 1.
  10. ^ Moodley, K., Hernández Serrano, P., van Dijck, G., & Dumontier, M. (2020). Sleeping Beauties in Case Law. Paper presented at International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, Prague, Czech Republic.
  11. ^ Qing Ke, Emilio Ferrara, Filippo Radicchi, and Alessandro Flammini. (2015). Defining and Identifying Sleeping Beauties in Science. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  12. ^ Teixeira, Aurora AC, Pedro Cosme Vieira, and Ana Patrícia Abreu. "Sleeping Beauties and their princes in innovation studies." Scientometrics 110, no. 2 (2017): 541-580.
  13. ^ Ho, Yuh-Shan, and James Hartley. "Sleeping beauties in psychology." Scientometrics 110, no. 1 (2017): 301-305.
  14. ^ Du, Jian, and Yishan Wu. "A bibliometric framework for identifying “Princes” who wake up the “Sleeping Beauty” in challenge-type scientific discoveries." Journal of Data and Information Science 1, no. 1 (2017): 50-68
  15. ^ van Raan, Anthony FJ, and Jos J. Winnink. "Do younger Sleeping Beauties prefer a technological prince?." Scientometrics 114, no. 2 (2018): 701-717.
  16. ^ van Raan, Anthony FJ, and Jos J. Winnink. "The occurrence of ‘Sleeping Beauty’publications in medical research: Their scientific impact and technological relevance." PLOS ONE 14, no. 10 (2019): e0223373.