From Nature 455, 274-275 (2008):
Researchers could garner more citations simply by making their papers longer, a study seems to imply (K. Z. Stanek, Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.0692; 2008).
In an analysis of 30,027 peer-reviewed papers published between 2000 and 2004 in top astronomy journals, astronomer Krzysztof Stanek of Ohio State University in Columbus found that the median number of citations increases with the length of the paper — from just 6 for papers of 2–3 pages to about 50 for 50-page papers.
There is, however, a limit to the benefits of size: citations start to tail off when papers reach lengths of 80 pages or so, perhaps because fewer people have the stamina to read them.
It is unexpected, says astronomer Jörg Dietrich of the European Southern Observatory headquarters in Germany, who recently conducted a similar analysis and found the same results but didn’t publish them. “I expected that shorter papers would be cited more than longer ones,” he says. “I assumed that people don’t have the time to read long papers.”
Papers of about 4 pages — the length of Letters in Astrophysical Journal and Astronomy and Astrophysics, which report brief summaries of work that is usually published in more detail later — fare better than papers 5–10 pages long. But brevity offers no such benefit for papers in the other two journals considered, Astronomical Journal and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, which do not have Letters.