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Scientific citations of M.A.

M.D. Trifunac
Dept. of Civil Eng., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2531, USA

ABSTRACT: Maurice Anthony Biot made lasting contributions to many areas of engineering and applied
science (including earthquake engineering, aeronautics, wave propagation, porous media, nonlinear elasticity,
theory of folding of geologic strata, and thermodynamics). His accomplishments are well known and recognized. To commemorate the 100-th anniversary of his birth, this paper presents a quantitative, albeit simple,
description of his journal papers in terms of publication and citation rates. It shows that Biots overall publication rate (per year) was, and that the citation rate (per year) of his papers continue to be about three times
higher than what those are today among senior engineering faculty at leading American Universities. It is remarkable that more than 60 percent (almost 6000) of all of Biots citations (more than 9200 in early 2004) result from only twenty-one papers he wrote on the subject of porous media.
Maurice Anthony Biot did most of his work before
the onset of the digital computer age in 1960s, and
before the information revolution through the Internet in 1990s. The impact of his work was and continues to be strong, remarkably not in one, but in
several diverse areas of engineering and applied science.
It is well known that Biot was a prolific writer,
and that his ideas have long lasting effects on the
generations of young scientists and engineers. To
learn more about his publication record and to quantify some of the bibliometric parameters, which describe his work I will describe his productivity in
terms of his journal papers and will present a brief
analysis of his citations. Through a comparison with
a group of professors in Civil Engineering and Mechanics who specialize in the field of Earthquake
Engineering, at leading universities in the U.S. I will
illustrate quantitatively the exceptionally high publication and citation rates of M.A. Biot.
Modern researchers are opting for collaboration
in their work, because this is expected to enable
them to address difficult, interdisciplinary and ambitious research topics (Bozeman and Lee, 2003). In
contrast, Biot did all of his work essentially alone.
Maurice Anthony Biot was born in Antwerp,
Belgium, on May 25, 1905. At University of Louvain, he received batchelors degrees in Thomistic
Phylosophy in 1927, in mining engineering in 1929
and in electrical engineering in 1930. In 1931 he was

awarded a D. Sc. With support from the Belgian

American Educational Foundation Biot spent two
years (1931-1933) at Caltech, where he graduated
with Ph. D. in Aeronautical Science in 1932. He was
then a faculty member at Harvard (19341935),
Louvain (19351937), Columbia (19371946), and
Brown (19461952) universities. In 1940, while professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia, Biot
was named to a post in the national defense program. He received a leave of absence to join the
aeronautical department of the California Institutes
of Technology to work on government research programs with Prof. Theodore von Karman. After 1952
Biot worked as a consultant for various government
agencies and industrial laboratories, mainly for Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Shell Development
Company and Mobil Research and Development
Company. A listing of Biots many awards, his
memberships and fellowships in learned societies
and a brief description of Biot as a human being can
be found in Mindlin (1989).
Biots work covers a broad range of science and engineering including applied mechanics, sound, heat,
thermodynamics, aeronautics, geophysics and electromagnetism. He investigated theoretical and practical subjects and was awarded patents for his inven-

tions. In the following, the principal areas of his

contributions are summarized briefly.
Earthquake Engineering. Biot started to develop
the concept of Response Spectrum, based on the recorded earthquake accelerations, in his doctoral dissertation (Biot, 1932). He proposed the use of spectral envelopes, based on a family of recorded
accelerograms, and engineering design procedures
via a standard design spectrum and spectrum superposition method (Trifunac, 2003). Following
1933 Long Beach, California, earthquake and the introduction of the first earthquake resistant design
codes in 1934, Biot worked with structural engineers
in California on further improvements of the design
codes (Scott, 1996).
Porous Media. From 1941, when he wrote his
first fundamental paper on consolidation, Biot
worked on general and systematic theory of a porous
solid containing a viscous fluid. Twenty one papers
by Biot on this subject have been published in a
book Twenty-one papers by M.A. Biot by Acoustical Society of America, edited by Ivan Tolstoy.
Wave Propagation. While working on radioguidance in middle 1950s, Biot laid the foundation
for a theory of rough surface scatter in applied
acoustics. In his work with Ivan Tolstoy he developed a new approach, using pulse generated transient waves. Biot also investigated the surface waves
along solid-fluid interface and the effects of initial
stress on the dispersion of surface waves.
Aeronautics. Biot worked on aeronautical problems and fluid mechanics during 1940s. He developed a three-dimensional aerodynamics theory of
oscillating airfoils, patented an electrical analog flutter predictor, and applied his previous ideas of mechanical transients in the design of earthquake resistant structures, to aircraft landing gear, and to the
sound emitted from musical instruments.
Non-linear Elasticity. Between 1934 and 1940
Biot worked on the second order theory of elasticity
accounting for the effects of initial stress and large
rotation. His book Mechanics of Incremental Deformation (Wiley, 1965) presents this theory and
includes many new developments and applications.
Theory of Folding. Biots interest in the nonlinear effects of initial stress and the inelastic behavior of solids lead to his mathematical theory of folding of stratified rock. He verified the results in the
laboratory and successfully applied them to explain
the dominant features of geological structures.
Thermodynamics. Biots early work on thermal
stresses developed into major advances in irreversible thermodynamics.This made it possible to establish variational principles which could be used to
develop new methods for the solutions of problems
in heat conduction, diffusion, thermoelasticity,
thermoviscoelasticity and chemical reactions. A review of this work was published in Advances in
Applied Mechanics (Vol. 24, 1-91; Academic

Press, New York, 1984). Later Biot presented this

work in a monograph Variational Principles in Heat
Transfer (Oxford University Press, 1970).
Bibliography of M.Biot, including three books,
180 Scientific Articles, Seven Aeronautical Laboratory Reports (Caltech), Seven Cornell Aeronautical
Laboratory Reports, Two U.S. Air Force office of
scientific research and development, four reports for
United States Air Force and description of seven
patents (in Belgium, France and the United States)
have been published in Academie Royale de Belgique, Annuaire 1990, Extrait, Notice sur Maurice
Anthony Biot, par A. Delmer et A. Janmolte, Bruxelles Palais des Academies.
There is at present no agreement on what constitutes
meaningful measures of academic productivity. In
this work a simplified approach will be adopted,
which is based only on one component of productivity of published work. Even this simplified approach
is faced with lack of criteria on how to weigh the
quality and significance of different publications
(Amin and Mabe, 2000), how to categorize books
and chapters in the books, relative to the journal
publications, and how to distribute credit among
multiple authors. Wanner et al. (1981) argue that the
important research results in the sciences are reported in refereed journals, and that other journal articles, books and other publications, are less used by
researchers to advance the science. Thus, weighing
the publications becomes an important bibliometric
issue, which is possible only within the study of the
same disciplines (Trifunac ad Lee, 2004).
Another issue is how to distribute credit among
the authors of a paper. One method is adjusted count
(or fractional count, or per-author count), which
gives each author credit equal to 1/ai, where ai is the
number of authors. Another method is the normal
count. It gives full credit to all contributors regardless of the order of the listed authors.
Between 1928 and 1987, Biot published 180
journal papers, and wrote three books: Mathematical
Methods in Engineering (with Theodore von Karman, in 1940), Mechanics of Incremental Deformation (Wiley, 1965), and Variational Principles in
Heat Transfer (Oxford, 1970). Here we will focus on
the impact of his journal papers.
Dashed lines in Fig. 1 show the cumulative number of journal papers published by Biot, versus years
since his Ph. D. (in 1932). Biots first paper appeared in 1928 and by the time he graduated in 1932
he had twelve papers, published or in press. Between 1932 and 1941 was Biots first prolific period.
During this time he wrote the famous paper on the
Response Spectrum Method in Earthquake Engineering (Trifunac, 2003), and the paper on the Gen-

Cumulative number of journal papers


Normal Count

Fractional Count

Normal count







Years since Ph.D. degree

Fig.1 Cumulative number of journal papers published by Biot

versus years since his Ph. D. degree. Averages of cumulative
numbers of journal papers published by engineering and science professors at American Universities for period between
1960 and 2000 are shown for comparison as USMA

For comparison, Fig. 1 also shows the mean publication trends among university professors during
the period between 1960 and 2000, derived from a
study by Bozeman and Lee (2003). Trifunac (2005a)
integrated their data on the mean number of publications per year, and computed the cumulative number
of published papers, using the data for normal count
and for fractional count. Thus computed cumulative
numbers of papers are shown in Fig. 1 and labeled
USMA (United States Male Average). The slopes of
USMA curves are xNUSMA = 3.37 papers per year, for
normal count, and xFUSMA = 1.40 papers per year for
fractional count. The average publication rates for
M. Biot are xNB = 3.40 papers per year and xFB = 3.2
papers per year. Since he wrote majority of his papers alone, it is seen that his productivity was almost
three times that of the average productivity of the
faculty analyzed by Bozeman and Lee (2003) for the
period between 1960 and 2000. The publish or perish environment of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s has
lead to progressively larger number of average journal publications per faculty per year starting around
1960, implying that for Biots contemporaries those
average rates were smaller.















USC- 4





Fractional count

Figure 2 illustrates the cumulative number of

papers published by 20 senior faculty in Civil En-

Cumulative Number of papers (abstracts in NISEE)

eral Theory of Three Dimensional Consolidation

(Tolstoy, 1992), the first in the series of 21 papers
dealing with theory of Porous Media.The second and
the most prolific period of M. Biots publications
occurred between 1957 and 1967 while he was
working for Shell Development Company. During
this time he wrote the Theory of Propagation of
Elastic waves in a Fluid-Saturated Porous Solid, and
the Theory of Folding of Stratified Viscoelastic Media and its Implications in Tectonics and Orogenesis.
Figure 1 shows these two productive periods with
steep slopes, between zero and 10 and 22 and 32
years after his Ph. D degree.




Years since Ph.D. degree



Fig. 2 Cumulative number of abstracts for 20 professors in

Earthquake Engineering, of journal papers of Biot, and of the
corresponding US Male(USMA) and Female(USFA) averages.

gineering, who specialize in Mechanics and Earthquake Engineering. It illustrates the spread about the
mean trend (USMA) and about Biots cumulative
number of journal papers, versus years since Ph. D.
degree. It shows the trends only qualitatively, since
most of the papers are in fact abstracts reported in
the National Information Service for Earthquake
Engineering database (NISEE), and those abstracts
include reports and conference papers in addition to
the journal papers. In this figure faculty are identified by a letter code and a number. The letter code
shows the institution where the faculty work, for example USC is Univ. of Southern California, UCSD
is U.C. San Diego, UCB is U.C. Berkeley, CIT is
Caltech, and so on. To avoid clutter cumulative
number of papers is shown only for a subset of 20
professors, from a group of 51 studied by Trifunac
(2005a). NISEE stands for National Information
Service for Earthquake Engineering which during
the past 30 years has been the leading repository for
all relevant published work in Earthquake Engineering and the related fields ( At
present this database has more than 100,000 abstracts. From January 2004 this data can be accessed
through Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA) in
Bethesda, Maryland (

Distribution function




ber of corrected citations and the citations taken directly from ISI web site, without corrections, are
within a factor of about two. Consequently it will be
assumed that those two are approximately equal, and
the total number of citations, using normal count,
will be used to illustrate the trends.

Distribution Function





Average Publication Rate (NISEE Abstracts / year)

Fig. 3 Distribution (top) and histogram (bottom) of publication

rates for 57 faculty in Earthquake Engineering (from Trifunac
2005a) with average (normal count) at xN57 = 3.34 abstracts per
year, and average publication rates for USMA and for Biot.

Figure 3 shows a histogram of publication rates

for 57 faculty in Civil Engineering as reported by
Trifunac (2005a), with average at xN57 = 3.34,
USMA (xNUSMA = 3.37) and the average journal publication rate of M. Biot (xNB = 3.40). Again, since
Biot wrote most of his papers alone, and because
this histogram is based on normal count, it is seen
that Biots publication rate was well above the average of this sample.
The data on citations used in this work was taken
from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)
website (, 3501 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19104. Since 1992, ISI is a Thomson Scientific Company, and part of the Thomson
Corporation (, specializing in
providing data for researchers, information specialists and administrators. The ISI Science Citation Index Expanded covers the period from 1975 to present, that is the citing papers were all published after
1975. Collecting citations from citing papers published before 1975 can be done manually, but this is
beyond the scope of this paper.
Many factors contribute to the uncertainty of the
total number of citations in ISI database. For example self citations can represent several to several tens
of percents of the total citations. This percentage depends on many factors which differ for different authors. Self citations can be eliminated by detailed
screening of data, but such screening is beyond the
scope of this work. Detailed study of twelve faculty
by Trifunac ad Lee (2004) has shown that the num-

Frequency of ocurrence

Frequency of occurrence









Average number of citations per NISEE Abstract

Fig. 4 Distribution and histogram of citation rates (per NISEE

abstract, and per journal paper for Bio).

Fig. 4 shows the histogram and the distribution of

the average number of citations, per journal paper
for Biot, and per abstract in NISEE database for 50
other faculty in Mechanics and Earthquake Engineering (Trifunac, 2005b). It is seen that the top 10
percent of authors in this group have 14 or more citations per abstract, 20 percent have eleven or more,
30 percent have nine or more, and 50 percent have
seven or more. It is seen that 50 members of this
sample have between 1 and 20 citations per abstract
(~ paper), while Biot has 51.
In early 1990s ISI staff showed that 55 percent
of all papers published in journals covered by ISI
database did not receive a single citation in 5 years
after they were published (Hamilton, 1991a). When
grouped by disciplines it was found that physics and
chemistry had the lowest rates of uncitedness, 37
and 39 percent respectively. The figures for engineering however were well above the average. More
than 72 percent of all papers published in engineering had no citations at all. Civil Engineering had the
highest rates of uncitedness at 78 percent. Even
those papers that did get cited were not cited very
often. An ISI study showed that between 1969 and
1981 only 42 percent of cited papers received more
than one citation (Hamilton, 1991b).
ISI database for citations between 1975 and 2004
shows that 55 of 180 (30.7%) papers by Biot were
not cited. This is obviously a rough upper bound,
since the number of his uncited papers would decrease if the reporting window were to be extended
to cover also the period before 1975.
Figure 5 shows the citation rates per year versus
publication rates per year. It is seen that this group

Total number of ISI citations / years since the first abstract


Total ISI citations in January 2004

Female Male







UIU-2 CU-1
UW-1 UIU-1



M.A.Biot, by Ac. Roy. De Belgique, 1990). The

second group includes papers 55, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63,
68 and 71, the third group includes papers 90, 97
and 99, and the fourth derives citations from his
book Mechanics of Incremental Deformations. So
far, Biots paper that received the largest number of
citations (1,447) is his paper No.60, published in
1956, and dealing with the theory of propagation of
elastic waves in a fluid saturated porous solid. During all other years Biots papers received on the average about 50 citations (Fig. 6). A remarkable characteristic of these highly cited papers is that Biot
wrote them alone.
Total Cumulative Number of Citations of M.A. Biot
versus His Age at the time the Cited Work was Published

As of Jan 1, 04
1985: Age 80
1975: Age 70
1965: Age 60
1955: Age 50
1945: Age 40



Total number of NISEE abstracts / years since the first abstract

Fig. 5 Total ISI citations per year versus publication rates (papers per year for Biot, and abstracts per year for others).

published between 1 and 8 papers per year and received between 3 and 100 citations per year. M. Biot
who published on the average 3.4 papers per year,
received (between 1975 and 2004) about 170 citations per year. Diagonal lines in Fig. 6 labeled
1,5,10,20 and 50 show the loci of constant number
of citations per published abstract (paper). For M.A.
Biot there are 51 citations per published paper.
In the above, publication and citation rates of
Biot are compared with those of the leading faculty
in Earthquake Engineering only. This is natural and
a logical first step, because Earthquake engineering
as such could be considered to have been born with
Biots concept of a response of an idealized structure
to ground motion (Krishna, 1981), and because the
author of this paper is familiar only with the field of
Earthquake engineering. Other similar comparisons,
which are beyond the scope of this paper, can be
presented by comparing Biots productivity and citation rates with contemporary leading researchers in
poromechanics and in other fields to which Biot
contributed seminal work.
Figure 6 shows citations (normal count) of M.A.
Biot, plotted versus his age, at the time the cited
work was published. From 1975 to January 2004,
Biot received 9,214 citations, mainly derived from
four groups of his contributions that were published
in: (1) 1941, (2) 1956, (3) 1962 and (4) 1965, when
he was 36, 52, 57 and 60 years old. The first group
included his papers 40 and 41 (Bibliography of











Fig. 6 Total ISI citations of M.A. Biot versus his age at the
time his cited work was published. Rough estimates of upper
bounds on what his total ISI citations may have been at his age
of 45, 55. and 85 are shown by different lines.

Decomposition of Biots citations into nine subject areas shows that 62% came from 21 papers on
poroelastic media, 9% from 26 papers on theory of
folding, 3% from 3 papers on wave propagation, 2%
from 2 papers in thermodynamics, 1% from 7 papers
in Nonlinear Elasticity, 1% from 6 papers on reflection of electomagnetic waves, <1% from 4 papers on
earthquake engineering, <1% from 7 papers on
aeronautic and fluid mechanics, and <1% from 4 papers on supersonic wings. The remaining 19% of citations came from 103 papers Biot wrote on various
other subjects.
Counting references to rank significance of journal
papers and of the journals publishing those papers
appears to be quite old. Since 1955 when Prof.
Eugene Garfield of the University of Pennsylvania
suggested that reference counting could also measure impact of published work, with introduction of
Science Citation Index (SCI) in 1963, and modern
development of citation databases, a major and use-

ful new tool became available to scientists and engineers. Today the data on citations is updated and distributed by the Institute of Scientific Information
(ISI) (
Modern ISI database, which contains citations
(Science Citation Index Expanded) covers the period
from 1975 to present, and has been the subject of
numerous studies aiming to find how it should be
used and interpreted. Discussion of these studies is
beyond the scope of his paper, but what should be
noted is that the citation rates vary between sciences
and engineering and among different fields. The
consequence is that the citation rates can be used to
compare researchers and journals only within a specific discipline. In the case of M. Biot the challenge
in the analysis of citations is the interdisciplinary nature of his publications. The benefit of analyzing his
citations is that his citation rates can be viewed as a
calibration point for analysis of his contemporaries
who worked in one or in several of the same subject
areas. Future studies, which may attempt to quantify
the categorical variables describing various attributes of excellence, will find the citation data for M.
Biot to be invaluable. We all know that the regression models are most sensitive to the data points that
lie beyond the common range.
It is obvious that Biots impact in several subject areas (e.g. porous media, wave propagation,
earthquake engineering, thermodynamics, nonlinear
elasticity) of applied mechanics is exceptional. The
fact that the number of citations his corresponding
papers received in most of these areas is also exceptionally high supports and reinforces Garfields hypothesis that counting citations can be a measure of
impact of ones published work.
The singular nature of Biots citations is apparent
from Fig. 4 and 5. He has more than three times the
number of citations of the most cited members of the
sample of the 51 faculty (Fig. 4) chosen for this relative comparison. His work in 21 papers on Porous
Media alone, places him by a factor of two above
the most cited members of the same sample of 51
faculty. Eliminating all of his contributions to the
subject of Porous Media and the associated citations,
would still place Biot above the highest cited members of the same (Earthquake Engineering) group
(Fig. 5).
Unexpected and disappointing for the author of
this article is that Biot received relatively small
number of citations for his work on the Response
Spectrum Method, Aeronautical Fluid Mechanics
and Supersonic Wings. It is difficult to explain this
outcome, and perhaps the reasons involve a combination of effects. What we do know is that uncitedness in engineering is high, approaching 80 percent
(78% in civil engineering, 77% in Aerospace engineering, 66% in chemical engineering; Hamilton,
1991a), relative to physics (37%) and geosciences
(46%). In early 2004 in category of engineering
(Thomson/ISI; had 212 names, but there was
no single Earthquake Engineer among them (Trifunac, 2005b). It seems that Earthquake Engineers are
not only ignoring the seminal contributions of M.A.
Biot, but also those of their own colleagues.
Finally it is hoped that this simple analysis of citations of M.A. Biot papers will inspire and influence young and future researchers to seek broad and
interdisciplinary education and in their writing of
papers to deemphasize quantity and focus on quality
and substance.
Amin, A. and Mabe, B. (2000) Impact factors, use and abuse,
Perspectives in Publishing, No. 1, 1-6.
Biot, M.A. (1932) Vibrations of Buildings during Earthquakes,
Chapter II in Ph. D. Thesis No. 259 entitled Transient Oscillations in Elastic System, Aeronautics Department,
Calif. Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, California.
Bozeman, B. and Lee, S. (2003) The Impact of Research Collaboration on Scientific Productivity, Presented at Annual
Meeting of the American Association for Advancement of
Science, Denver, Co., February 2003.
Hagstrom, W.O. (1965) The Scientific Community. Basic
Books, New York.
Hamilton, D.P. (1991a) Research Papers: Whos Uncited
Now? Science, p. 25, 4 January 1991.
Hamilton, D.P. (1991b) Publishing by-and for? The Numbers, Science, p. 1331, 7 December 1991.
Krishna, J. (1981) On Earthquake Engineering, in State of the
Art in Earthquake Engineering, 1981, edited by O. Ergunay
and M. Erdik, Kelaynak Publishing House, Ankara, Turkey.
Lehman, H.C. (1953) Age and Achievement. Princeton University Press.
Mindlin, R.D. (1989) Maurice Anthony Biot, in Memorial
Tributes: Natl. Academy of Engineering, Volume 3, 31-35.
Scott, S. (1996) Connections: John E. Rinne, The EERI Oral
History Series, Earthquake Eng. Res. Institute, Publication
No. OHS-3, 499 14th Street, Ste 320, Oakland, California.
Tolstoy, I. (Editor) (1992) Twenty-one Papers by M.A. Biot,
Acoustics, Elasticity and Thermodynamics of Porous Media, Acoustical Society of America, 500 Sunnyside Blvd.,
Woodbury, New York.
Trifunac, M.D. (2003) 70th Anniversary of Biot Spectrum, 23rd Annual ISET Lecture, Indian Society of Earthquake
Technology Journal, Paper 431, Vol. 40, No. 1, 19-50.
Trifunac, M.D. (2005a) On publication rates in Earthquake Engineering, submitted for publication.
Trifunac, M.D. (2005b) On Citation Rates in Earthquake Engineering, submitted for publication.
Trifunac, M.D. and Lee, V.W. (2004) A study on the relative
ranking of twelve faculty of the USC Civil Engineering
Department Experiments with Science Citation Index Expanded, Dept. of Civil Eng. Report No. CE 04-03, Univ. of
Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
Wanner, R.A., Lewis, L.S. and Gregorio, D.I. (1981) Research
Productivity in Academia: A comparative study of the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, Sociology of Education, Vol. 54, 238-253.