I'm currently trying to find out which authors get the most citations in specific fields, like


Condensed Matter

High Energy Physics - Experiment


(These are all arXiv categories)

Especially great would be to do such a search for specific year. Is any paper search engine capable of this?

  • 1
    Are you aware that arXiv is not a journal nor a conference? Why does citation has much to do with arXiv? By the way, there is no "e" at the end of "arXiv". This is the second time I saw you write "arXive" today.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:40
  • @scaaahu yes I'm aware of that. Citation isn't only interesting for arXiv papers, but I simply like the way they organize things by fields
    – jak
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:46
  • 2
    You can use google scholar and filter by subject area, but this approach will only pick up researchers that have a google scholar account. Astrophysics for example scholar.google.com.au/…
    – user49483
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:50
  • @user49483 ... and you will have to cope with the noise in Google Scholar citation count due to fake/manipulated citations and citations to and from non-scholarly works.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:56
  • Sure, but it is the quickest and easiest method I know of. I can't imagine that self citations, etc. would have much effect when a researcher has > 100k citations and I wouldn't think that non-scholarly citations are that biased towards certain researchers (although they definitely inflate the citation count). The biggest problem with google scholar, I would imagine, is some of the most productive researchers don't seem to bother setting up an account
    – user49483
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


"Most cited papers" in a given field/period is fairly easy through something like Web of Knowledge; it's a few clicks to find out that both Scopus and Web of Knowledge list this as the most cited paper in chemistry in 2014, for example. (Tellingly, they only agree on three of the top five...)

Doing this for authors is more challenging, though - the Google Scholar registered authors method suggested above is effectively an opt-in database and so there's no way of telling who's not in it. Scopus has fairly good author-citation indexing but I'm not sure if it's set up to answer this specific question.

A couple of studies with similar questions:

Abramo et al looks at a defined set of researchers (all Italian academics) and shows a way to identify the most highly cited authors within them - basically just WoK citation counts. Robust but tedious, and you probably don't want to start with a list of "all astrophysicists"...

Another approach is to pick the most highly cited articles in your field (assuming that the bulk of citations are in these, not the long tail) and look at the authors of those papers. See, eg, Choi et al, which is "the most cited authors of the 250 top papers in the field", or Uthman et al, which looks at the authors of the top hundred medical reviews.

You could combine these - pull out, say, the fifty most cited papers, look at their authors, and do full citation counts on these using WoK. It seems likely that the most cited authors overall will be an author on one or more of the top papers.

  • Web of Knowledge is the right tool (if the field is covered by it). Why would you want to know about most cited papers in a field? One reason: in tenure and promotion cases, when they reach the higher levels of the university. If papers in medicine typically have thousands of citations in the first two years, but papers in mathematics only dozens, we don't want the math papers turned down as "insignificant" by comparison.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:23

Web of Knowledge or Web of Science are probably the best tools for this, but if they are not available to you there is a free software called Publish or Perish that can help make sense of the Google Scholar citation measures.

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