Twenty over 2,000: Fermilab’s most cited papers

Heath O’Connell

This year we celebrate 50 years of discovery at Fermilab. We know that Fermilab has made an impact on our understanding of the universe, and while that may be difficult to measure, we can get some idea of its influence by surveying the most frequently cited papers our scientists have published.

The range of topics in Fermilab’s top 20 most cited papers, which have all been cited over 2,000 times, shows the incredible breadth of Fermilab’s physics program. From development of high-energy physics simulation software to the discovery of the top quark, Fermilab has contributed immensely to the body of physics knowledge.

The importance of simulation software in modern high-energy particle physics is indicated by the strong showings of the PYTHIA, GEANT and MadGraph papers in the first, second, sixth and 14th places. More information on PYTHIA can be found in a Fermilab News interview with Computing’s Steve Mrenna from April 2017.

The third most-cited paper is on Fermilab’s contribution to the Higgs boson discovery by the CMS collaboration — a fun thing to note near the fifth anniversary of the Higgs announcement. The CMS detector description is in fourth place.

The lab’s pioneering collider physics research is also reflected in, of course, the highly cited papers on the top quark discovery by the Tevatron collaborations CDF and DZero at seventh and 11th respectively. These papers are in the top five all-time highest cited hep-ex papers.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is also well represented. The SDSS technical summary is in fifth place; a paper on the measurement of cosmological parameters is 12th; its results in the detection of baryon acoustic oscillations comes in 13th; and a survey of its seventh data release comes in at 19th.

Fermilab’s theoretical papers have had an outstanding impact on the field. Topics include supersymmetry at eighth, quark-gluon plasma production at ninth, and dark matter at 10th in a review by Dan Hooper and collaborators. In 15th place is the Eichten-Hinchliffe-Lane-Quigg review of collider physics that did so much to motivate the construction of the SSC and LHC. The longer followup to Gross and Wilczek’s Nobel Prize winning paper on asymptotic freedom is in 16th place. QCD corrections relevant for the determination of the CKM matrix is at number 17, followed by work on neutrino masses at 18. Rounding out the list at number 20 is a study of the evolution of cosmological structure from small initial density fluctuations.

The publication dates of the top-cited papers stretch nearly four decades, from 1975 to 2012, exemplifying Fermilab’s long-standing record of excellence in physics research.

Heath O’Connell is the Fermilab INSPIRE leader and head of the Information Resources Department.