The Top 10 Most-Cited Papers Published During my EiC Term

I like that my institution has a subscription to the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science. It allows me to quickly obtain paper count and citation stats. One of the things I can do is a search with “Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics” as the “Publication Name” and enter a year range to find the paper count and citation count. If I use the range 2014 – 2019, this covers my full term as EiC of the journal. It looks like the collection already includes the “early view” papers online in December 2019, so it is about as up-to-date as it can possibly get.

Some quick facts that I learn:

  • There have been 4,509 papers published over these 6 years.
  • There have been 34,519 citations to those papers over those same 6 years.
  • Those citations came from 10,547 articles across all scholarly publications included in the Web of Science listing.
  • 2016 and 2017 were the peak year for papers, with 830 and 832 published articles, respectively. This was the peak of my push for special sections.
  • The average citations per article is 7.7, while the median is 4, indicating (as expected) a highly skewed right-sided tail to the distribution.
  • 651 of these papers have zero citations, mostly those published this year and last
  • Only 14 of the papers published in 2014 (out of 760, so ~2%) still have no citations (including one correction, two replies to comments, and one special section preface).
  • If this 6-year interval of the journal’s existence were a person, it would have an h-index of 47, which is higher than my h-index for my whole career.


Another bit of info this gives me is the list of most-cited papers. Here are the top 10 most-cited papers in JGR Space Physics, published from January 2014 through today:

  1. W. S. Kurth et al., Electron densities inferred from plasma wave spectra obtained by the Waves instrument on Van Allen Probes, Feb 2015, with 177 citations
  2. E. Astafyeva et al., Ionospheric response to the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day storm: A global multi-instrumental overview, Oct 2015, with 126 citations
  3. W. Li et al., Radiation belt electron acceleration by chorus waves during the 17 March 2013 storm, Jun 2014, with 108 citations
  4. G. Livadiotis, Introduction to special section on Origins and Properties of Kappa Distributions: Statistical Background and Properties of Kappa Distributions in Space Plasmas, Mar 2015, with 93 citations
  5. L. G. Ozeke et al., Analytic expressions for ULF wave radiation belt radial diffusion coefficients, Mar 2014, also with 93 citations
  6. N. P. Meredith et al., Global morphology and spectral properties of EMIC waves derived from CRRES observations, Jul 2014, with 91 citations
  7. S. A. Glauert et al., Three-dimensional electron radiation belt simulations using the BAS Radiation Belt Model with new diffusion models for chorus, plasmaspheric hiss, and lightning-generated whistlers, Jan 2014, with 88 citations
  8. A. A. Saikin et al., The occurrence and wave properties of H+-, He+-, and O+-band EMIC waves observed by the Van Allen Probes, Sep 2015, with 85 citations
  9. A. N. Jaynes et al., Source and seed populations for relativistic electrons: Their roles in radiation belt changes, Sep 2015, with 84 citations
  10. C. Gabrielse et al., Statistical characteristics of particle injections throughout the equatorial magnetotail, Apr 2014, with 83 citations

The plasmasphere is in pole position. People love to know plasma density. Nicely done, Bill! I see an ionospheric paper in the #2 spot, one that conducted a sweeping analysis of many data sets for one of the most famous storms of solar cycle 24. Way to go, Elvira! I see a lot of inner magnetosphere papers, which is not a surprise given that the Van Allen Probes mission produced an excellent data set, with its prime mission phase still in full swing right at the beginning of my EiC term. Also, it is not surprising that all of these most-cited papers come from 2014 and 2015; these years have had the most time to accumulate citations.

The big surprise, at least to me, is the Introduction paper to the kappa distribution special section in the #4 slot. This article is more like a review than a preface, but still, I am very impressed at its inclusion in this list. It has broad appeal, though, spanning topics from the solar corona to planetary ionospheres, and it appears that people are citing it as a standard reference for this topic from all space physics fields. Fantastic, George!

Also, among those older papers without a citation yet, I don’t see (qualitatively) any particular trend in topic. There are papers from nearly every topic within the journal scope, including quite a few inner magnetosphere studies. Their dominance in the top-10 most cited list is not a guarantee that a paper on this topic will “do well” with respect to this measure of impact. Likewise, omission from this top-10 list does not mean that your favorite topic performs systematically less well than others. And, of course, citation count is not the full measure of impact for a scholarly work.

Keep up the good work, space physicists!

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