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Exploring the impact of the IPCC Assessment Reports on science

Vasileiadou, Eleftheria, Gaston Heimeriks, and Arthur C. Petersen. 2011. Exploring the impact of the IPCC Assessment Reports on science. Environmental Science & Policy, 14 (8): 1052–1061.

Abstract

Even though critique to IPCC is certainly not new, the climate controversies of 2009 and 2010 brought this critique again to the fore in public media. The paper contributes to this ongoing debate, and investigates empirically the impact of the four Assessment Reports of the IPCC on scientific publications and science, through scientometric analyses of cited references to IPCC reports. The results indicate, among other things, that the aggregate impact of IPCC reports on scientific publications has increased through each consecutive assessment report, independently from the increase of the climate change field, showing a pattern which suggests that the references are quite generic. Both disciplinary distribution and geographical distribution of the impact of the reports are skewed, the former towards geophysical sciences, the latter towards western/developed countries. However, this skewness is decreasing over time. Given the increasing impact further away from the climate change field, it is important that the IPCC becomes more transparent about its internal processes and main conclusions.

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