SLAC | Library | SPIRES Databases | Search HEP | Comments Topcites 2000 Edition
Based on data from the SPIRES-HEP Literature Database, SLAC Library
MP Topcites (Handle with Care)
By Karl-Henning RehrenCitation counts can never be objective quality standards. The following comments should discourage uncritical use of such data.
1. Citation numbers always contain a "scale", set by the size of the scientific community which is comparatively small in the case of Mathematical Physics (MP).
2. The MP citation ranking within the SPIRES-HEP database suffers from the incomplete coverage of MP subjects outside of High Energy Physics (HEP).
3. As MP addresses a broad variety of physical subjects, MP articles are not confined to a well-defined set of MP journals, and in turn receive a great portion of their citations from non-MP journals.
Inspite of the ensuing difficulties to define "MP" within the SPIRES database, two attempts have been made to this effect. They are based on widely recognized MP journals as well as the math-ph and math eprint archives.
The first list consists of articles which appeared in these MP journals, and were cited within HEP. The second list consists of articles throughout HEP which were cited in these MP journals. Besides calibrating the scale for the scientific weight of MP publications, these lists also reflect the impact of MP on HEP, and vice versa.
It is an inherent defect of the present approach that outstanding MP researchers and seminal articles do not appear at all, because either the work is published in a non-MP journal, or its relevance pertains to areas outside MP. But the two lists give a reasonable survey of the MP landscape:
Two areas, Quantum Groups and Conformal Field Theory, dominate the second list (citations in MP journals). A "population effect" is certainly visible here. The first list (citations of articles published in MP journals) exhibits an even more important role of Renormalization Theory. There is a considerable contribution of Axiomatic Field Theory to both lists, and also Gravity has its share (including No 1 of the first list).
Although the front-runners in both lists are of rather recent vintage, hardly any article appeared later than 1990 (the peak is in the 80ies, with a tail of five decades). Thus MP seems less susceptible to rapid fashions, and is not subject to an "expiry date".