“10 years of research impact : the most cited articles in Scopus 2001 – 2011” – Synthesis of the article originally published in the Elsevier newsletter “Research Trends, Issue 38”

Scopus is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch in 2014. The largest database of citations and peer-reviewed abstracts available today brings together some 53 million records, representing almost 22,000 titles from 5,000 publishers. In this study, we identify ten of the most cited articles which were indexed in the Scopus database in various fields of knowledge between 2001 and 2011. In addition, we make contact with the authors of these articles with the objective of establishing if they ever imagined that their articles would be as highly cited as they actually were.

The methodology used in this study consisted of a search for articles published in the Scopus database between 2001 –2011. Scopus is equipped with tools for retrieving, analyzing and visualizing research articles. The initial search which yielded some 13 million records was refined to exclude reviews, editorials and book chapters. The results were then limited to one of Scopus’26 subject categories at a time¹. The most cited articles were then selected from those which had been retrieved in each category. Details of the most cited articles in each of the following subject categories will be presented in this article:

  1. Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  2. Arts and Humanities
  3. Computer Science
  4. Chemical Engineering
  5. Energy
  6. Engineering
  7. Environmental Sciences
  8. Medicine

Agricultural and Biological Sciences

TAMURA, K., et al. MEGA4: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) software version 4.0. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 2007, vol. 24, nº 8, pp. 1596-1599. Available from: http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/8/1596.short.

Cited 17,359 times as of June 2014.

MEGA (Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis) is a freely available software tool which is used to carry out the statistical analysis of molecular evolution and to construct phylogenetic trees. It is used by biologists in a large number of laboratories for reconstructing the evolutionary history of species and for inferring the extent and selective forces which mould the evolution of genes and species. The first version of this software, which was developed by S. Kumar and K. Tamurva in the laboratory of Dr. Masatoshi Nei, was released in 1993. The authors of this article attribute the high number of citations achieved to the growing importance of the analyses of DNA and protein sequences –and, therefore, of the MEGA software –in genomic studies currently being undertaken. MEGA version 6.00was released in 2013.

Arts and Humanities

MCCALL, L. The complexity of intersectionality. Signs. 2005, vol. 30, nº 3, pp. 1771-1800. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-23944514914&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a14.

Cited  640 times as of June 2014).

This article discusses the complexity involved in the study of intersectionality and puts forward different methods for doing this. Intersectionality is the study of intersections between forms and systems of oppression, domination and discrimination. The author, Leslie McCall, of Northwestern University, specializes in the study of social inequality, economic and political sociology and social theory. According to the author, the high citation count is due to the interdisciplinary interest in the issue of intersectionality across a wide range of subject fields.


ALLISON, J., et al. Geant4 developments and applications. IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science. 2006, vol. 53, nº 1, pp. 270-278. Available from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/abstractAuthors.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1610988&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2 Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D1610988.  Cited  1,450 times as of June 2014.

This article, co-authored by 44 scientists from various countries including the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Russia to name a few, describes the development of the Geant4 software tool which is used for simulating the passage of particles through matter. The use of this software has applications in high energy physics, astrophysics and space science, medical physics and radiation protection. According to the author, Professor Asai, the Geant4 software found applicability in areas which are experiencing rapid expansion.

Chemical Engineering

KREUER, K.D. On the development of proton conducting polymer membranes for hydrogen and methanol fuel cells. Journal of Membrane Science. 2001, vol. 185, nº 1, pp. 29-39. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-0035871245&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a18.

Cited 1,689 times as of June 2014. 

The article describes the structure/property relationships of proton conducting polymer membranes made of NAFION and other hydrocarbon ionomers, as well as the methodology of its manufacturing. The article was widely cited by journals in the areas of chemistry, material science, and energy due to the wide range of applications and requirements for better membranes. The author stated that he was aware of the high impact his article generated in the community because it deals with highly relevant materials for fuel cells and other electrochemical applications.

Computing Science

LOWE, D.G. Distinctive image features from scale-invariant keypoints. International Journal of Computer Vision. 2004, vol. 60, nº 2, pp. 91-110. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-3042535216&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a21.

Cited 15,797 times as of June 2014.

The article presents an object recognition algorithm based on a method of extracting the distinct invariant characteristics from images. The algorithm was created in 1999 by David Lowe. The applications of the algorithm include image equalization, robotic mapping and navigation, 3D modeling, gesture recognition, individual identification of wildlife, generation of organ images, and interpretation of visual images by human beings. The algorithm is patented in the USA by the University of British Columbia. The author attributes the high number of citations to the usefulness of the algorithm in visual computation research, in addition to its wide use in practice.


GEIM, A.K., and NOVOSELOV, K.S. The rise of graphene. Nature Materials. 2007, vol. 6, nº 3, pp. 183-191. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-33847690144&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a24

Cited 11,102 times as of June 2014.

The article discusses the nature and use of graphene and the emergence of a new paradigm in “relativistic”condensed matter physics. Graphene is pure carbon in the form of a very thin almost transparent film, of the thickness of one atom. It is extremely resistant considering its low weight (it is 100 times stronger than steel) and is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It was produced for the first time in the lab in 2004. In the comments made by the author, Prof. Geim, it is suggested that the article should be read together with the author’s previous publication in Science (2004). Both make up the foundation for research in graphene, a Nobel prize winning subject.

Environmental Science

KOLPIN, D.W., et al. Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: A national reconnaissance. Environmental Science and Technology. 2002, vol. 36, nº 6, pp. 1202-121. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-0037085574&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a27.

Cited 3,279 times as of June 2014.

The article describes a study conducted between 1999 and 2000 on the presence of 95 organic contaminants in wastewater in 139 streams in 30 states of the USA. It deals with the first study conducted on a national scale that showed the prevalence of pharmaceutical products and other organic compounds in streams in the US and the importance of obtaining data on metabolites so as to understand the destination and transport of contaminants in waterways, and their effect on humans and the environment. According to the author, Ms. Kolpin, this was a pioneering article which raised the question of organic pollutants and their effects on the environment, and it sparked an increasing interest in this topic in subsequent years.


ROSSOUW, J.E., et al.  Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: Principal results from the women’s health initiative randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002, vol. 288, nº 3, pp. 321-333. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-0037125379&origin=inward&txGid=889446F2F4A19659A8B29F233 AE5389C.ZmAySxCHIBxxTXbnsoe5w%3a30.

Cited 9,723 times as of June 2014.

This article evaluates the principle benefits and risks of hormone preparation with estrogen and progestin in post-menopausal women in the United States, and arrives at the conclusion that the risks outweigh the benefits. According to the comments by Prof. Rossouw, the idea of hormonal therapy as prevention for cardiovascular disease, whose benefits could be greater than its dangers, was disproved by this study. Moreover, after its publication, prescriptions for hormone therapy fell 75% in the first 18 months and continue to decline, as do the rates of breast cancer.


¹ See the complete list in Table 1 in the original post – http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-38-september-2014/10-years-of-research-impact/


HALEVI, G., and MOED, H.F. 10 years of research impact: top cited papers in Scopus 2001-2011. Research Trends. 2014, vol. 38. Available from: http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-38-september-2014/10-years-of-research-impact/.

Full article in English



Translated from the original in Portuguese by Nicholas Cop Consulting.


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

HALEVI, G and MOED, H. F. “10 years of research impact : the most cited articles in Scopus 2001 – 2011” – Synthesis of the article originally published in the Elsevier newsletter “Research Trends, Issue 38” [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2014 [viewed ]. Available from: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2014/10/22/10-years-of-research-impact-the-most-cited-articles-in-scopus-2001-2011-synthesis-of-the-article-originally-published-in-the-elsevier-newsletter-resear/


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