What makes articles highly cited?

John Antonakis, Nicolas Bastardoz, Yonghong Liu, Chester A. Schriesheim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We examined drivers of article citations using 776 articles that were published from 1990 to 2012 in a broad-based and high-impact social sciences journal, The Leadership Quarterly. These articles had 1191 unique authors having published and received in total (at the time of their most recent article published in our dataset) 16,817 articles and 284,777 citations, respectively. Our models explained 66.6% of the variance in citations and showed that quantitative, review, method, and theory articles were significantly more cited than were qualitative articles or agent-based simulations. As concerns quantitative articles, which constituted the majority of the sample, our model explained 80.3% of the variance in citations; some methods (e.g., use of SEM) and designs (e.g., meta-analysis), as well as theoretical approaches (e.g., use of transformational, charismatic, or visionary type-leadership theories) predicted higher article citations. Regarding statistical conclusion validity of quantitative articles, articles having endogeneity threats received significantly fewer citations than did those using a more robust design or an estimation procedure that ensured correct causal estimation. We make several general recommendations on how to improve research practice and article citations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-179
Number of pages28
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Citations
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Research impact
  • Research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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