The Super Papers

To go along with the lost papers that are never cited (my previous post), the Citation Reports also tell you which JGR-Space Physics papers are cited the most from a particular year. Let’s take a quick look at the top 10 papers from each of the years that I pulled (1980, 2000, 2008, and 2011). This are the ones that have had the most impact on the field, as least as measured by the number of times they have been cited in other scientific journals.

This reminds me of the fantastic scene in Shrek the Third, when the cat creates the name Team Alpha Super Awesome Cool Dynamite Wolf Squadron:

Okay, enough of that. On to the citation numbers of these “super papers.”

For 2011: The top paper is Wen Li et al.’s “Global distribution of wave amplitudes and wave normal angles of chorus waves using THEMIS wave observations” with 44 citations. This is an astonishingly high number to me. It goes down by one or two citations per placement on the list, with #10 having 29 citations already.

In 2008: the numbers of course increase dramatically as we add a few more years since publication. The top paper from that year is by Jeff Forbes et al., “Tidal variability in the ionospheric dynamo region,” with 116 citations so far. Yes, that’s over 20 a year (not counting 2008 or 2014 in the denominator). Some others are not far behind, with the top 5 all having 100+ citations already. The #10 paper on the list has 68 citations, well over 10 a year.

Going back a little farther, to 2000: the numbers continue to increase, with Chris St. Cyr et al.’s “Properties of coronal mass ejections: SOHO LASCO observations from January 1996 to June 1998” topping the chart at 318 citations. Yes, that’s ~25 citations per year. The next closest has 279 citations, and #10 on the list has 180.

Finally, for 1980: citations for the top ten papers range from 174 citations for paper #10 on the list all the way up to 461 citations for Michel Blanc and Art Richmond’s paper on “The Ionospheric Disturbance Dynamo.” Yes, another ionospheric dynamo paper topping the citation list! That total works out to an average of over 13 citations/year, continuously for over 30 years, and it still breaks the record books with numbers like 44 citations in 2011. What an amazing paper! The #10 paper on the list is still averaging ~6 citations a year in recent times. Oh, and one more interesting factoid of the top-ten list from 1980: Art Richmond and Michel Blanc have another paper on it, on quiet-time ionospheric electric fields.

Of these 40 top-cited papers in these particular 4 years I’ve highlighted, here is the total breakdown by AGU-SPA discipline: 11 fit into the Earth aeronomy category, 12 were solar-heliospheric papers, 11 were Earth magnetospheric studies, and 6 were about planetary space environments. What a well-balanced representation of space physics.

Focusing on the top ten also reminds me of the whole 1% -v- the 99% controversy. It’s true that, in 1980 for instance, these top 10 papers (roughly 3% of the total) had 2506 citations, which is nearly 20% of the total. For 2011, the top ten is more like 1.5% of the total papers, and they have 315 combined citations (only 7% of the total). I am strong supporter of our 1% club…


I hope that we all strive to write these kinds of papers!



One thought on “The Super Papers

  1. Pingback: Comparing the Impact of Journals | Notes from the JGR-Space Physics Editor-in-Chief

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