CMS breaks particle physics publication record

CMS had a banner year in 2018 in terms of scientific output. The CMS collaboration broke a record, with 141 scientific papers submitted to peer reviewed journals.

The success of a scientific experiment can be measured in a few ways, but perhaps the best one is number of scientific publications. Even there, there are different ways of counting them, but a good method is the number of publications submitted per year. And in 2018, CMS had a banner year in terms of scientific output. The CMS collaboration broke a record, with 141 scientific papers submitted to peer reviewed journals. That’s nearly three each week. The previous record in high-energy physics was also held by CMS. In 2017, the CMS experiment submitted 132 papers.

These achievements are not the only metrics whereby one judges an experiment’s physics output. The CMS experiment has submitted for publication or published a total of 1,089 papers, of which 874 are physics measurements, including several first observations of rare processes, a large number of searches for Beyond the Standard Model physics, and numerous Standard Model measurements. Taken together, these publications are an unprecedented stress test of our current understanding of the subatomic realm. The full list of publications, including links to the papers and additional info, is available online.

The credit for this impressive level of productivity obviously goes to all members of the CMS collaboration. However, the Fermilab group has had an outsized direct impact on the CMS analysis effort. Fermilab scientists comprise about three percent of CMS researchers, a number that rises to about 15 percent if we include all researchers involved in the LHC Physics Center (LPC). However, the fraction of CMS papers led by LPC-based researchers and Fermilab staff and research associates is much larger – about 30 percent. When one counts the papers not necessarily led by LPC-affiliated scientists, but with a substantial LPC contribution, the number is much larger – about 50 percent. Further, LPC-affiliated researchers chair about 20 percent of the committees that CMS uses to ensure that their papers are properly reviewed. And Fermilab senior scientist Boaz Klima chairs the CMS Publications Committee, which oversees the experiment’s publication process.

There are other ways to measure scientific impact. The two most cited experimental particle physics papers of all time are those from CMS and ATLAS announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson, which led to the Nobel Prize in 2013. In addition, including both scientific and technical papers, CMS has published five papers with more than 1,000 citations and sixteen with over 500 citations. The CMS experiment has pushed our understanding of the Standard Model and our ability to test proposed new theories to both an energy scale and a level of precision unimaginable before CMS started taking data. By any standard, there is no question that this is a high-impact scientific instrument.

The timeline of all CMS papers, which are based on analysis of LHC collision data, split by their physics topic, is also available online.

Don Lincoln is a Fermilab scientist on the CMS experiment and the U.S. CMS education and outreach coordinator.