SLAC 2006 Topcites

A couple weeks ago I generated a list of the theoretical physics papers that were most heavily cited during 2006, according to the SLAC database, and discussed it here. Today the people at SLAC put out their own lists for 2006, which are quite interesting to go through. Their data is quite consistent with mine, although the numbers are very slightly larger, since a small number of new citations have been added into the database over the last couple weeks, I think mainly from papers which for example appeared on the arXiv in January 2007, but carried 2006 dates (e.g. write-ups from 2006 conferences).

The main list covering all HEP papers is dominated these days by astrophysics-related papers. Out of the 50 papers on the list I count only about 15 particle theory papers, and 3 review articles. The only post-1999 hep-th paper that makes the list is the KKLT landscape paper. To make the top 50, a paper needed to get 152 citations or more.

The list I put together goes deeper, down to papers with 100 citations, but SLAC has also put out something even better: 2006 lists of 50 most-heavily cited hep-th and hep-ph papers. To make the hep-th list, a paper had to have 62 or more citations. Looking over the 20 or so post-2000 papers on this list gives a good idea of what topics have been popular in recent years: the landscape, dark energy, and various aspects of AdS/CFT, and a small number of other topics. There are also several review papers on the list. Anyone interested in understanding what topics are attracting attention in particle theory research these days should find it quite interesting to go through this list, and spend some time taking a look at and learning about any of these papers that are unfamiliar.

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12 Responses to SLAC 2006 Topcites

  1. Bee says:

    thought you might be interested, in case you haven’t yet seen

    New particle accelerator could rule out string theory
    22:04 01 February 2007 news service

  2. Peter Woit says:

    Thanks Bee, I hadn’t seen that particular piece of string theory hype, will add it to the relevant posting. To relate to the current topic, the paper in question has been cited a total of 5 times since it appeared last April.

  3. Do many string theorists really deny that the subject is in poor shape these days? The only one I can think of is Clifford Johnson. Most of the ones I know freely admit that there is a stalemate, but claim [I think rightly] that there is no alternative on the market……

  4. woit says:


    I’ve found the last few years that when I speak to string theorists privately they’re willing to admit that things are not going well, but they are very loathe to say this publicly. The active string theorists with blogs (Clifford/Jacques/Lubos) all publicly claim that things are fine with string theory, that at most what is going on is that the field is a bit less active than at some other times.

    I agree there’s no obvious alternative on the market (as far as particle theory goes, for quantum gravity there’s LQG). If there were a promising alternative idea particle physics unification, string theorists by now would be willing to jump ship. The problem is how do you encourage people to do the kind of work necessary to come up with alternatives?

  5. Garbage says:

    “To relate to the current topic, the paper in question has been cited a total of 5 times since it appeared last April.”

    Well, the final (published) version if I recall right came out in october…LHC yet to come!
    Nevertheless, it is kinda fun Peter makes such remark. I cant even imagine the type of ranting he would spit out if it had more than 100+ by now 🙂
    The article in the New Scientist is however really poor I admit. If it makes it into ‘the economics’ then I would start to worry 🙂


  6. Pindare says:

    Those who think there is no alternative on the market should perhaps have a closer look at the recent work of Connes, Chamseddine, Marcoli, Barrett, Cartier…

    In a recent video interview available here

    Connes says (chapter 18 at 3:50, translated from french): “[…]when you look at the table which I have made […] you realize that the dimension of a point is not zero, it is six! […] This is somehow consistent whith what people do in string theory *but* they look for an ordinary space of dimension 6 while the space that one finds with the formula is not an ordinary space, it is a non-commutative space, so they could not find it. […] it is of metric dimension 0 but of dimension 6 in the sense of K-theory […]”

    He then says they make predictions (Higgs, Top) which must be tested in two years time by LHC data to see wether or not their model is right.

  7. Who says:

    as a way to track the quality of string research activity we can count the number of recent string papers that made the “top 50” list last year and compare this with how many made it in previous years.

    As you mention, in 2006 only one recent string paper made the top 50. By recent I arbitrarily mean published in the last five years: 2002-2006.

    However in 2000 I count TWENTY that made the top 50 list. Here by recent, published in the past five years, I mean a 1996-2000 publication date. Going from twenty down to one is a remarkable decline.

  8. Peter Woit says:


    To be fair, only in recent years has SPIRES included the astrophysics data. If you exclude astrophysics papers, I suspect a couple more particle theory papers would make the top 50. Still, the change since 2000 has been extremely dramatic.

  9. mclaren says:

    “The active string theorists with blogs (Clifford/Jacques/Lubos) all publicly claim that things are fine with string theory, that at most what is going on is that the field is a bit less active than at some other times.”

    That parrot’s not dead! He’s just sleeping!

  10. Who says:

    lovely and apt Pythonism 🙂
    John Cleese: This is an EX-PARROT!

  11. woit says:

    I can’t resist referring to an ancient piece of creative writing of my own:

  12. Who says:

    From the looks of it, astrophysics has been included since 2001 (and in Peskin’s reviews for 2002 and 2003 what gets top billing is already cosmology, after which neutrinos. So I think it is fair to compare the years
    2001-2006 (the top 50 have been determined on about the same basis in each year)

    2001: 14 recent string papers in top 50
    2002: 13 papers
    2003: 8 papers
    2004: 3 papers
    2005: 3 papers
    2006: 1 paper, the one you mentioned by KKLT.

    recent defined as published in the past five years, e.g. in 2001, published sometime in 1997-2001
    Over this time period I don’t think the decline can be ascribed to the inclusion of astro-ph because that was done throughout.
    Good point though. I will exclude 2000 and earlier, since on quick inspection astro doesn’t seem to have been included before 2001.

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