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Science by numbers

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world 05 Nov 2014

From Nature online

The top 100 papers

The discovery of high-temperature superconductors, the determination of DNA’s double-helix structure, the first observations that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating — all of these breakthroughs won Nobel prizes and international acclaim. Yet none of the papers that announced them comes anywhere close to ranking among the 100 most highly cited papers of all time…

The exercise revealed some surprises, not least that it takes a staggering 12,119 citations to rank in the top 100 — and that many of the world’s most famous papers do not make the cut.

Still, there is one powerful lesson for researchers, notes Peter Moore, a chemist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “If citations are what you want,” he says, “devising a method that makes it possible for people to do the experiments they want at all, or more easily, will get you a lot further than, say, discovering the secret of the Universe”.



Quite a fascinating piece, and I couldn’t go past this amazing infographic.

Pat Wall was at least short-listed for the Nobel gong a number of times, and Ron Melzack has received many awards, but their gate control paper doesn’t appear in the top 100 either.

-Tim Cocks


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