Contemporary Citation Classics – Subjects and Predictions

Philip White takes a peek into the future. What papers are likely to become 'citation classics'?
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Previously, I described the compilation of a list of 517 contemporary Citation Classics in Plant Sciences (1992-2017) and revealed the authors, journals and organisations represented in these papers. Here I investigate the topics of these papers and try to predict some Citation Classics of the future.

Words appearing in the titles of Citation Classics in Plant Sciences since 1992.
Words appearing in the titles of Citation Classics in Plant Sciences since 1992. The font size indicates relative frequency of appearance.

The most common word in the titles of Citation Classics in Plant Sciences since 1992 was “plant”, which appeared in 38% of all titles. Other common words were “stress”, “response”, “gene”, “expression” and, of course, “arabidopsis”. The latter appeared in 11% of all titles. This is probably not surprising since this small, diploid, self-fertile plant has featured in an ever increasing number of publications in Plant Sciences between 1992 (1.9% of publications) and 2017 (18.9% of publications). Today, there seems to be almost as many publications in Plant Sciences on arabidopsis as on all the major crops of the world combined. But let me issue a word of caution for those of you now rushing to write an article entitled “The response of gene expression in arabidopsis plants to stress”; what was once a popular subject need not necessarily continue to be so. I tried to spot “food”, “security”, “climate” and “change” in the word cloud but couldn’t. Can you?

Percentage of papers in the Web of Science category “Plant Sciences” whose topic was "arabidopsis" or one of the major crops (sugar cane, maize, wheat, rice, potato, soybean, oil palm, beet, cassava, tomato, barley, brassicas or alliums).
Percentage of papers in the Web of Science category “Plant Sciences” whose topic was “arabidopsis” or one of the major crops (sugar cane, maize, wheat, rice, potato, soybean, oil palm, beet, cassava, tomato, barley, brassicas or alliums).

Tempted to write a review? Most of the contemporary Citation Classics I identified were either research articles (39.6%) or reviews (59.6%). When the relative proportion of each is plotted against year of publication, the proportion of research articles in the annual cohort is smaller at both the beginning and end of the time series. This suggests that a research article takes longer than a review to become a Citation Classic and its fame is shorter. Incidentally, as one might expect, since only 4% of all publications are reviews but more than 53% of Citation Classics are reviews, one can conclude that a review is more likely to become a Citation Classic than another type of article. Roughly 1 in 40 reviews will become Citation Classics compared to 1 in 800 research articles. So, if you want a Citation Classic in double quick time, with the greatest chance of success, you should write a popular review.

Proportion of contemporary Citation Classics that were research articles or reviews each year between 1992 and 2012.
Proportion of contemporary Citation Classics that were research articles or reviews each year between 1992 and 2012.

Finally, a prediction: I previously noted that the average number of Citation Classics was about 0.2% of the total number of papers published each year, which is one fifth of the 1% of papers that are designated “Highly Cited” on Web of Science. In order to predict the Citation Classics of the future one might look at an annual “Highly Cited” cohort and select the most cited papers. So, for example, if I were to predict 20 papers (11 reviews and 9 articles) from 2011 that could become Citation Classics by 2025 these would be, in order of their probable ascendance:

  1. Mittler R, et al. (2011) ROS signaling: the new wave? Trends in Plant Science 16, 300-309. [718 citations] https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(11)00055-0
  2. Foyer CH, Noctor G (2011) Ascorbate and glutathione: The heart of the redox hub. Plant Physiology 155, 2-18. [649 citations] http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/155/1/2
  3. Robert-Seilaniantz A, et al. (2011) Hormone crosstalk in plant disease and defense: More than just jasmonate-salicylate antagonism. Annual Review of Phytopathology 49, 317-343. [630 citations] https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-phyto-073009-114447

which were on my original list

  1. Cardinale BJ, et al. (2011) The functional role of producer diversity in ecosystems. American Journal of Botany 98, 572-592. [448 citations] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3732/ajb.1000364
  2. Rascio N, Navari-Izzo F (2011) Heavy metal hyperaccumulating plants: How and why do they do it? And what makes them so interesting? Plant Science 180, 169-181. [415 citations] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168945210002402
  1. Rumpel C, Kogel-Knabner I (2011) Deep soil organic matter – a key but poorly understood component of terrestrial C cycle. Plant and Soil 338, 143-158. [415 citations] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11104-010-0391-5
  2. Furbank RT, Tester M (2011) Phenomics – technologies to relieve the phenotyping bottleneck. Trends in Plant Science 16, 635-644. [390 citations]
    https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(11)00209-3
  3. Foyer CH, Shigeoka S (2011) Understanding oxidative stress and antioxidant functions to enhance photosynthesis. Plant Physiology 155, 93-100. [370 citations] http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/155/1/93
  4. Blackwell M (2011) The fungi: 1, 2, 3 … 5.1 million species? American Journal of Botany 98, 426-438. [359 citations] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.3732/ajb.1000298
  5. Leivar P, Quail PH (2011) PIFs: pivotal components in a cellular signaling hub. Trends in Plant Science 16, 19-28. [344 citations] https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(10)00162-7
  1. Smith SE, Smith FA (2011) Roles of arbuscular mycorrhizas in plant nutrition and growth: new paradigms from cellular to ecosystem scales. Annual Review of Plant Biology 62, 227-250. [335 citations] https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-arplant-042110-103846
  2. Soltis DE, et al. (2011) Angiosperm phylogeny: 17 genes, 640 taxa. American Journal of Botany 98, 704-730. [334 citations] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.3732/ajb.1000404
  3. Fernandez-Calvo P, et al. (2011) The arabidopsis bHLH transcription factors MYC3 and MYC4 are targets of JAZ repressors and act additively with MYC2 in the activation of jasmonate responses. Plant Cell 23, 701-715. [329 citations] http://www.plantcell.org/content/23/2/701
  4. Thomma BPHJ, et al. (2011) Of PAMPs and effectors: The blurred PTI-ETI dichotomy. Plant Cell 23, 4-15. [328 citations] http://www.plantcell.org/content/23/1/4
  5. Cuperus JT, et al. (2011) Evolution and functional diversification of MIRNA genes. Plant Cell 23, 431-442. [327 citations] http://www.plantcell.org/content/23/2/431
  1. Fujita Y et al. (2011) ABA-mediated transcriptional regulation in response to osmotic stress in plants. Journal of Plant Research 124, 509-525. [323 citations] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10265-011-0412-3
  2. Peleg Z, Blumwald E (2011) Hormone balance and abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 14, 290-295. [319 citations] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369526611000069
  3. Chen F, et al. (2011) The family of terpene synthases in plants: a mid-size family of genes for specialized metabolism that is highly diversified throughout the kingdom. Plant Journal 66, 212-229. [316 citations] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04520.x
  4. Endelman JB (2011) Ridge regression and other kernels for genomic selection with R Package rrBLUP. Plant Genome 4, 250-255. [315 citations] https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/tpg/abstracts/4/3/250
  5. Lux A, et al. (2011) Root responses to cadmium in the rhizosphere: a review. Journal of Experimental Botany 62, 21-37. [313 citations] https://academic.oup.com/jxb/article/62/1/21/514644

As you might observe, there are many popular authors, journals and research topics on this list that have featured in the three blog articles I have written for Botany One. Will the past predict the future? We shall have to wait and see.


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