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Important papers

An "important" paper is one that has changed an area of research in some way.  If you are trying to determine if a paper is important consider the following:

  • How many times has it been cited? Remember to keep in mind the factors affecting citations listed below!  For example: a paper published in 2015 that has been cited 75 times is almost certainly more important that a paper published in 2005 cited 75 times.
  • In those citations what is said about this paper?  Some articles gain a large number of citations because many people are using them as a bad example!  Generally when an instructor asks you to find important papers they mean important in a  good way.

Factors influencing citation count

  • Time since publication
  • Importance of the work (both good and bad)
  • Importance/prominence of the journal the article is published in
  • Language of publication : something published in (say) Russian or Chienese will get fewer citations than one in English because fewer people can read Russian or Chinese
  • What type of document is it?  Literature reviews (also known as: review articles, reviews, research summary, etc.) generally receive more citations than original research papers (also known as: journal articles, papers, research articles, etc.)

Determining how many times an article has been cited

Most scholarly databases will indicate the number of times a paper has been cited. 

This is how to determine the citation count in Web of Science:

After running a search:Screen shot showing where the number of citations can be found and where to change the sorting to sort by number of citations

Or after clicking on the title of an article:

Where to see how many citations a specific article has recieved