Top Cited HEP Articles

Review of top cited HEP Articles
1994-1996 Edition

By: H. Galic

Based on data from the 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 in the database have the most citations? If so, this document may help you. It points to three lists:

All lists reflect the status of SPIRES-HEP on December 31, 1996.

How Citations are Collected

The SPIRES database system at SLAC is a treasure-chest of information. The flagship database is HEP (PREPRINT), a joint project of the SLAC and DESY libraries. HEP contains more than 335,000 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 more than 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 are 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 49 journal articles with the most citations since January 1, 1994. In a category of its own is the Review of Particle Physics, whose three editions (1992, 1994 and 1996) have collected more than 2,800 citations in the last three years. 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 the phenomenology of supersymmetry top the list of most cited 'regular' journal articles in the last three years. One is written by Nilles, the other by Haber and Kane. Both papers played a major role in the study of 'beyond the Standard Model' physics. On the theoretical front, the recent remarkable progress in understanding non-perturbative properties of supersymmetric field and string theories was initiated by the work of Seiberg and Witten. Their two articles on N=2 supersymmetric Yang-Mills theory are at positions 3 and 11. The observation of the top quark at Fermilab was the most significant event in experimental high-energy physics in recent years, and this is reflected in the high positions (4 and 6) of the corresponding D0 and CDF papers. Position 5 is held by the still very popular Altarelli and Parisi paper on parton physics. Sjostrand's and Bengtsson's Monte Carlo program for jet fragmentation physics (Lund Monte Carlo), and the Shifman, Vainshtein, Zakharov article on QCD theory and phenomenology are at the seventh and eight places respectively, followed by Witten's paper on the strong coupling dynamics of string theories. 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 10 and 20. Hawking's analysis of black holes is at position 12, and CDF's early (1994) papers on the evidence for the top quark production are at positions 13 and 22. Two important papers on QCD singularities, by Balitskii and Lipatov, and by Kuraev, Lipatov, Fadin are at positions 14 and 18 respectively. Two papers by Gasser and Leutwyler on chiral perturbation theory are at the 15th and 17th places, and the sixteenth on the list is the COBE Collaboration article on the probe of the early universe with a sensitive measurement of the cosmic microwave background. Several classic, but still very popular papers, including the Kobayashi and Maskawa extension of Cabibbo's mixing to three quarks, Weinberg's version of the Standard Model, and the Nambu and Jona-Lasinio paper from the early sixties on dynamical generation of particle masses, are at positions 19, 21, and 23. The Martin, Stirling, Roberts refinement of parton distributions, and the Amaldi, de Boer, Furstenau presentation of tests of the Grand Unified Theories (GUT) at CERN-LEP, 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. In addition, two experimental works by EMC Collaboration took very high positions. The complete list shows titles, authors, publication information, and the exact number of citations on December 31, 1996.

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, 1996. 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 54 journal papers with the most citations in the HEP database since 1974. Included are all papers with more than 1,000 citations. The list reads like a Who's Who in high-energy physics. Seventeen of the listed papers were published in Physical Review, thirteen in Nuclear Physics, ten in Physical Review Letters, five in Physics Letters, four in Physics Reports, and five 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). These 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 30 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 fourth 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 fifth position. Confinement of quarks is studied in Wilson's paper, number 6 on the list. It is followed by an article on QCD improved parton distributions by Altarelli and Parisi at position 7. Next is the 1994 edition of the Review of Particle Properties, followed by the paper on an 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 10). In two very popular papers (eleventh and sixteenth 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, while Coleman and Eric Weinberg discuss one-loop effective potential and radiatively broken symmetry (position 13). Two articles on asymptotic freedom, one by Politzer, the other by Gross and Wilczek are at positions 14 and 19, respectively. Dynamical generation of fermion masses, fermion condensates, and pseudoscalar mesons as Goldstone excitations are described in the Nambu and Jona-Lasinio paper, position 15. Two popular string theory articles are at places 17 and 20: Polyakov presents cancellation of conformal anomalies and path-integral treatment of covariant string theory, and Candelas, Horowitz, Strominger, Witten analyze the compactified heterotic string model. The review of the phenomenology and theory of supersymmetry, by Nilles is at position 18. 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 position 21. (The Bell-Jackiw paper is at the 45th place). Next is the Eichten, Hinchliffe, Lane, Quigg review of physics at or above the 1-TeV scale, followed by the 1992 edition of the Review of Particle Properties. The proof of the renormalizability of gauge theories by 't Hooft and Veltman is at position 24, and the list of the 25 most cited journal articles concludes with Guth's paper on the exponential expansion of the early universe ('inflationary phase'). 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 physicists) 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, 1996.


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 as 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. An update may follow a year from now. We have archived lists from other years.

1996/1997 Edition by H. Galic
Compiled December 31, 1996
Work performed at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)

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