Fun with Citations

Occasionally, I play around with understanding the citation habits of astronomers. This can be motivated by papers on this subject or just questions that come up in conversations or in my thinking. Anway, here are random studies in this area. Major kudos to ADS for providing such a great way to quantitatively study citations!

# of authors of highly cited papers

This work was inspired by a paper by Jay Frogel titled Astronomy's Greatest Hits: The 100 Most Cited Papers in Each Year of the First Decade of the 21st Century (2000-2009). I wondered how the number of authors of the highest cited papers changed over a long timeline (from 1900 till now). I wrote a python program to automatically query the ADS database and extract this information for the top 10 highest cited papers per year. The results are quite interesting as there is a clear break for the highly cited papers slowly trending from 1 to 2 authors over almost 100 years to shooting up to having close to 100 authors in just 20 years. The break looks like it happened around 1990 - maybe this is showing a phase change in astronomy where high impact work is dominated by large projects like surveys. Neat. Read the titles, authors, etc. of the top cited papers by year here.

Plot showing the average # of authors versus year
The blue points give the average, the purple points the median, and the green error bars, the range.

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