A third of the top 100 papers are about software
Posted by Cheng Soon Ong on October 30, 2014
How many of the papers that are in the top 100 most cited about software?
21, with an additional 12 papers which are not specifically about software itself, but about methods or statistics that were implemented later in software. When you take a step back and think about the myriad areas of research and the stratospheric numbers of citations the top 100 get, it is quite remarkable that one fifth of the papers are actually about software. I mean really about software, not software as an afterthought. Some examples:
- The CLUSTAL_X Windows interface: Flexible strategies for multiple sequence alignment aided by quality analysis tools.
- PROCHECK: a program to check the stereochemical quality of protein structures.
- MrBayes 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models
To put in perspective how rarified the air is in the top 100 citations, the if we combined all citations received by all JMLR papers in the last five years (according to SCImago), this one gigantic paper would not even make it into the top 100.
Yes, yes, citations do not directly measure the quality of the paper, and there are size of community effects and all that. To be frank, being highly cited seems to be mostly luck.
In the spirit of open science, here is a bar plot showing these numbers, and here is my annotated table which I updated from the original table. For a more mainstream view of the data, look at the Nature article.
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