Top Cited HEP Articles

Review of top cited HEP Articles
1993-1995 Edition

By: H. Galic

Based on data from HEP (PREPRINT) database, SLAC-SPIRES

One of the most popular and unique features of the HEP(PREPRINT) database is the citation search, which identifies how many subsequent papers have cited a particular journal article or an e-print archive paper. Such a search may, among other things, identify important contributions to high-energy physics and related fields.

Have you ever wondered which articles have the most citations in the database? If so, this document may help you. It points to three lists:

All three lists reflect the status of the SPIRES-HEP database on December 31, 1995.

How Citations are Collected

The SPIRES database system at SLAC is a treasure-chest of information. The flagship database is HEP (PREPRINT) database, a joint project of the SLAC and DESY libraries. HEP contains more than 300,000 entries with extensive bibliographic descriptions of high-energy physics preprints, of journal articles, and of papers from the Los Alamos e-print archives. The database also has pointers to viewable versions of many thousands of articles in postscript depositories worldwide. Since 1974, HEP has tracked the number of times a published high-energy physics journal article has been cited by later works. The citations are collected from preprints received by SLAC Library. The library receives between 8,000 and 10,000 preprints yearly, and each of the preprints is a potential source of many citations. In earlier years, only citations of journal articles were collected from preprints received by the library. HEP now also collects citations to Los Alamos e-prints. When (and if) an e-print is published, the citations from the e-print phase become added to the citations of the journal phase. See also a more detailed note on the collection of citations.

Top-Cited Papers in the Last Three Years

At the bottom of this section you can find a pointer to the list of high-energy physics articles that have collected the most citations in the last three years. This is potentially the most important indicator of what is "hot" in the field today. The list shows 50 journal articles with the most citations since January 1, 1993. In a category of its own is the Review of Particle Properties, whose two editions (1992 and 1994) have more than 1,000 citations each. This is a real tribute to all the experimental physicists whose works were used in the compilation. Yet the Review is also more than just a compilation: its selection process and the standard-setting, its review sections and other features, make the Review an indispensable tool on the desk of every high-energy physicist.

Two papers on supersymmetry top the list of 'regular' journal articles. One is written by Nilles, the other by Haber and Kane. Both papers played an important role in the study of 'beyond the Standard Model' physics. Next on the list is the COBE Collaboration article on the probe of the early universe with a new, sensitive measurement of the cosmic microwave background. Study of the QCD Lagrangian in the heavy mass limit and its consequences on heavy meson physics are discussed in two articles by Isgur and Wise, at positions 4 and 7. Sjostrand's and Bengtsson's Monte Carlo program for jet fragmentation physics (Lund Monte Carlo), and the Amaldi, de Boer, Furstenau presentation of tests of the Grand Unified Theories (GUT) at CERN-LEP are at the fifth and sixth places respectively. Another paper on GUT phenomenology, by Langacker and Luo, is at position 8. Next on the list are several classic, much older, but still very popular papers: the Altarelli and Parisi work on parton physics, Weinberg's version of the Standard Model, the Shifman, Vainshtein, Zakharov article on QCD theory and phenomenology, the Nambu and Jona-Lasinio paper from the early sixties on dynamical generation of particle masses, the Kobayashi and Maskawa extension of Cabibbo's mixing to three quarks, and Hawking's study of black holes, are at positions 9 to 14. Two papers by Gasser and Leutwyler on chiral perturbation theory are at the fifteenth and seventeenth places, and 't Hooft's study of instantons and dynamical symmetry breaking is at position 16. The EMC Collaboration paper on proton spin structure is the most cited high-energy physics experimental paper in the last three years. Witten's study of two-dimensional black hole solutions in superstring motivated 2D dilaton gravity, and Wolfenstein's paper on neutrino oscillations and consequences on solar neutrino fluxes are at positions 19 and 20. An earlier version of the Lund Monte Carlo, by Sjostrand, follows. Another string theory classic, by Belavin, Polyakov, Zamolodchikov is at the 22nd place, and Witten's study of a topological field theory based on the Chern-Simons action is 23rd. The Martin, Stirling, Roberts refinement of parton distributions, and an experimental paper by the CDF Collaboration on the first firm indication of the top quark production, conclude the list of 25 most cited journal papers in the last three years. The remaining positions are almost equally divided between phenomenology and pure-theory papers. Another experimental work (by EMC Collaboration) also took very high position. The complete list shows titles, authors, publication information, and the exact number of citations on December 31, 1995.

Most Cited E-prints

Since 1991, high-energy physicists have had the opportunity to post their new papers to Paul Ginsparg's e-print archives in Los Alamos. In 1993, SLAC, in cooperation with DESY and CERN, began providing postscript versions of the e-prints, and readers with the Web access throughout the world were able to view and print such articles online. (The automatic postscript production had been moved to Los Alamos in June 1995). Today, more than two thirds of particle physics related preprints received by SLAC Library originate from the archives. The list of top-cited e-prints, thus, in a way, provides another look at the ideas and fields most popular among physicists today.

The complete list of top-cited e-prints shows titles, authors, publication information, and the exact number of citations on December 31, 1995. It also has direct links to viewable and printable versions of the e-prints.

All-Time Favorites

At the bottom of this section you can find a pointer to the list of 'all-time favorites'. The list contains 47 journal papers with the most citations in the HEP database since 1974. All of the papers surpassed the 'magic boundary' of 1,000 citations. The list reads like a Who Is Who in high-energy physics. The most fruitful period in this field, according to the list, was the early seventies: fifteen articles from the list were published in just two years, 1973 and 1974. Another pronounced peak appears in 1984/85 with eight papers. Fifteen of the listed papers were published in Physical Review, eleven in Nuclear Physics, ten in Physical Review Letters, five in Physics Letters, and six in other journals. It is interesting that eighteen 'all-time favorites' are also listed among the most popular in the last three years (see above). The papers which are twice-listed are truly 'evergreens'.

The Standard Model (SM) of weak and electromagnetic interactions has had the most profound effect on physics in the last 20+ years. Steven Weinberg's article Model of Leptons is by far the most popular work in high-energy physics, and Glashow's 1961 article on gauge symmetries is very close to the top of the list, at the fifth position. (Salam's version of the model was not published in a journal but in a book, and its citations are thus not registered in the database). The second place on the list is held by an article of Glashow, Iliopoulos, and Maiani, which discusses a mechanism for the cancellation of divergencies (GIM mechanism), and the need for a fourth quark. The Kobayashi and Maskawa discussion of the CP violation in the SM and the generalization of the Cabibbo matrix is at position 3. The Georgi and Glashow article which explores physics beyond the standard model and introduces the SU(5) based Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is at the fourth position. Confinement of quarks is studied in Wilson's paper, number 6 on the list. It is followed by articles on QCD improved parton distributions by Altarelli and Parisi, and another extended gauge model by Pati and Salam. Theory and phenomenology of QCD applied to resonance physics is presented in a paper by Shifman, Vainshtein, Zakharov (position 9), while Coleman and Eric Weinberg discuss one-loop effective potential and radiatively broken symmetry (position 10). In two very popular papers (eleventh and fifteenth positions) 't Hooft studies instanton induced quark interactions and dynamical symmetry breaking as an alternative to the Higgs mechanism in the SM. Position 12 is held by the Belavin, Polyakov, Zamolodchikov paper on conformal field theory and general string perturbation theory. Two articles on asymptotic freedom, one by Politzer, the other by Gross and Wilczek are at positions 13 and 18, respectively. Dynamical generation of fermion masses, fermion condensates, and pseudoscalar mesons as Goldstone excitations are described in the Nambu and Jona-Lasinio paper. Two popular string theory articles are grouped together on places 16 and 17: Candelas, Horowitz, Strominger, Witten analyze the compactified heterotic string model, and Polyakov presents cancellation of conformal anomalies and path-integral treatment of covariant string theory. Adler's paper on the Adler-Bell-Jackiw chiral anomaly, first studied in the context of triangle diagram contribution to pi0 -> gamma gamma, but later shown to be of extreme importance in QCD, is at the position 19. (The Bell-Jackiw paper is on the 47th place). Next is the 1992 edition of the Review of Particle Properties, followed by the Eichten, Hinchliffe, Lane, Quigg review of physics at or above the 1-TeV scale. Guth's paper on the exponential expansion of the early universe ('inflationary phase') is 22nd, and the 't Hooft, Veltman proof of the renormalizability of gauge theories is 23rd. The list of the 25 most cited journal articles concludes with the Belavin, Polyakov, Schwartz, Tyupkin demonstration of instanton solutions in non-Abelian gauge theories, and with the review of the phenomenology and theory of supersymmetry, by Nilles. The remaining papers on the list are an equal mixture of theoretical and phenomenological contributions. Two experimental papers on the discovery of the J/psi particle (by Brookhaven and SLAC Collaborations) also made it to the list of articles with more than 1000 citations. The complete list shows titles, authors, publication information, and the exact number of citations on December 31, 1995.


Do not be disappointed if your favorite paper does not appear on any of the lists. The total number of citations is not the only criterion for the worth of a scientific paper. You may simply be working on a subject which does not attract wide attention, although it is equally important and enjoyable to study as some of the more popular themes. Likewise, experimental works tend to be grossly undercited, because important experimental results seem to be considered 'common knowledge' by the majority of non-experimentalists. Furthermore, works published in smaller or non-English journals are generally less available and less cited. Finally, the HEP database only collects citations found in preprints, and many citations from non-preprinted articles are not covered. Still, we hope that you will find the citation lists instructive and entertaining, and consider them an imperfect but nonetheless interesting snapshot of popular trends in present day high-energy physics. There are archives from other years to view.

(Two articles based on this document were published in CERN Courier, Volume 36, March 1996 [No.2], pp.21-24, and April/May 1996 [No.3] , pp.9-12)

1995/1996 Edition by H. Galic
Written December 31, 1995
Work performed at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)

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