Travis Brooks of SLAC’s SPIRES database has a blog posting today announcing the availability of various lists of the high energy physics papers most heavily cited during 2009. A full matrix of links to this data is here, data broken out by arXiv subfield is here.
It’s hard to over-emphasize how much the particle theory parts of these lists are dominated by classic papers on AdS/CFT, in particular Maldacena’s original 1997 paper. It now has over 6600 citations and during the next year or so should pass Weinberg’s 1967 paper as the most heavily cited particle physics paper of all time. One remarkable thing about this paper is that in recent years the number of citations of it has increased to new highs, reaching 731/year in 2008. Even at the height of theoretical activity surrounding the Standard Model back during the late 1970s, none of the classic papers of that subject (such as Weinberg’s) reached even half the citation rate of the Maldacena paper. Similarly, during the explosion of interest in string theory after 1984, none of the papers from the first superstring revolution reached half the Maldacena rate.
Among the top 25 entries in the 2009 overall top-cite list, the leading theory papers are 97-98 AdS/CFT classics at positions 3, 8 and 9, as well as Randall-Sundrum extra dimension papers from 1999 at 14 and 20. Among the top 50 entries, there are only two hep-th papers that are not from the last millennium: at number 33 one of the papers on superconformal Chern-Simons/supergravity duality, and Horava’s Lorentz-breaking gravity proposal at number 38 (there’s a very recent article about this at FQXI).
Looking just at the articles cited in hep-th during 2009, gauge-gravity duality is again completely dominant. The top 3 are AdS(5)/CFT(4) classics , the rest of the top 9 are about the lower dimensional AdS(4)/CFT(3) case (except for an AdS/CFT review article). To find something not about gauge-gravity duality, one has to go down to number 10, the KKLT paper that set off the landscape craze.
Taking a look at recent hep-th lists of postings, there seems to be no let-up in the AdS/CFT dominance. The only recent paper on another topic that seems likely to make the top ten of the 2010 listings is Erik Verlinde’s January paper on entropic gravity, which two months later already has 40 citations.