Van Noorden R, Maher B, Nuzzo R. The top 100 papers. Nature 2014;514:550-553
Nature asked Thomson Reuters, which now owns the SCI, to list the 100 most highly cited papers of all time. Surprisingly, many of the world’s most famous papers do not make the cut. Most of the 100 papers describe experimental methods or software that have become essential in their fields.
The most cited work in history, for example, is a 1951 paper describing an assay to determine the amount of protein in a solution. It has now gathered more than 305,000 citations. The list of top journals reveals how powerfully research has been affected by computation and the analysis of large data sets. But the position of any particular methods paper or database at the top of the citation charts is also down to luck and circumstance.