Originality has self-evident importance for science, but objectively measuring originality poses a formidable challenge. We conceptualise originality as the degree to which a scientific discovery provides subsequent studies with unique knowledge that is not available from previous studies. Accordingly, we operationalise a new measure of originality for individual scientific papers building on the network betweenness centrality concept. Specifically, we measure the originality of a paper based on the directed citation network between its references and the subsequent papers citing it. We demonstrate the validity of this measure using survey information. In particular, we find that the proposed measure is positively correlated with the self-assessed theoretical originality but not with the methodological originality. We also find that originality can be reliably measured with only a small number of subsequent citing papers, which lowers computational cost and contributes to practical utility. The measure also predicts future citations, further confirming its validity. We further characterise the measure to guide its future use.
- Systemvetenskap, informationssystem och informatik