Reviewers for Geology, most often experts in their field, are asked if the submitted manuscript is “novel, provocative, and of broad interest.” The Science Editors (also full-time academics) try to balance the reviewers’ various views on these criteria to publish manuscripts that have the potential to become highly influential papers. The question is: How successful are we, as a scientific community, at recognizing these manuscripts during the review process? This article addresses this question by presenting mean annual citation rates for the 3208 papers published in Geology between 2000 and 2010. The data come from Web of Knowledge (http://wokinfo.com; all databases) and are averaged over the number of years since publication; i.e., 2010 citation totals are divided by 2, 2009 by 3, etc. The data were extracted by Science Editor P.A. Cowie in October 2012.

TABLE 1.

THE TOP THREE MOST-HIGHLY-CITED PAPERS PUBLISHED IN GEOLOGY BETWEEN 2000 AND 2010 IN RANK ORDER ACCORDING TO WEB OF KNOWLEDGE (ALL DATABASES; * DENOTES FEMALE FIRST AUTHOR)

Figure 1.

Cumulative percentage of papers published in a given year, for the period 2000 to 2010, versus the average number of times cited since publication (averaged over number of years since publication). This graph shows that <5% of papers have not yet been cited at all. Approximately 10–15% have been cited on average once per year, a rate that could be attributed to self citation by the authors themselves. Most papers (50–60%) have been cited on average between 1 and 5 times per year. Approximately 20% of the papers published have been cited on average between 5 and 10 times per year, while <10% have been cited >10 times per year (see Fig. 2). Variations between years, particularly for more recent years (e.g., 2009–2010) could be due to natural variability, the shorter time window of averaging, or the effect of the launch of Nature Geoscience in 2008.

Figure 1.

Cumulative percentage of papers published in a given year, for the period 2000 to 2010, versus the average number of times cited since publication (averaged over number of years since publication). This graph shows that <5% of papers have not yet been cited at all. Approximately 10–15% have been cited on average once per year, a rate that could be attributed to self citation by the authors themselves. Most papers (50–60%) have been cited on average between 1 and 5 times per year. Approximately 20% of the papers published have been cited on average between 5 and 10 times per year, while <10% have been cited >10 times per year (see Fig. 2). Variations between years, particularly for more recent years (e.g., 2009–2010) could be due to natural variability, the shorter time window of averaging, or the effect of the launch of Nature Geoscience in 2008.

Figure 2.

Average number of citations since publication (averaged over number of years since publication) versus the rank order of the top ten most highly cited Geology papers in the period 2000–2010. Pie chart indicates the country where the first author resided when the paper was published. Note that 15.5% of the first authors of these 110 papers are women; i.e., a gender ratio of 6.5:1. This graph shows that there are typically two or three papers published in each year that attract exceptional citation rates of >>10–20 citations per year on average. In the time window 2000–2010, two of these highly influential papers were first-authored by the same person: Marin Clark. This graph also shows that papers that make it into the top 10 are typically cited at least 12–15 times per year. An attempt to analyse these papers for subject area proved futile, as many of them are strongly interdisciplinary, and the titles speak for themselves.

Figure 2.

Average number of citations since publication (averaged over number of years since publication) versus the rank order of the top ten most highly cited Geology papers in the period 2000–2010. Pie chart indicates the country where the first author resided when the paper was published. Note that 15.5% of the first authors of these 110 papers are women; i.e., a gender ratio of 6.5:1. This graph shows that there are typically two or three papers published in each year that attract exceptional citation rates of >>10–20 citations per year on average. In the time window 2000–2010, two of these highly influential papers were first-authored by the same person: Marin Clark. This graph also shows that papers that make it into the top 10 are typically cited at least 12–15 times per year. An attempt to analyse these papers for subject area proved futile, as many of them are strongly interdisciplinary, and the titles speak for themselves.