Some time ago, Nature published a fascinating bibliometric study, in which they looked at the top 100 cited papers. The number 1 most cited paper, describes an assay on how to determine the protein content of a solution – it has over 300,000 citations. To make it to the top 100 of papers, you need at least 12,119 citations.
The article also looks at the breakdown of these 100 papers by field. The top fields are bioinformatics, biology lab technique, crystallography, mathematics/statistics, medical statistics, medicine, phylogenetics, physical chemistry, physics, and psychology/psychiatry. There’s no space for any of the engineering disciplines in the top most cited papers.
My paper that has attracted the largest number of citations sits at 102 citations. The top of the sketch in the Nature article includes those papers that have 100-999 citations, but there are still major differences between this upper echelon and what really makes a paper well-cited.
How many citations do seminal papers in your field have? Let me know in the comments below.