Eugene Garfield
Our reader surveys indicate that "Hot Papers" is one of our most popular editorial features. When and how did it begin?

After the Science Citation Index was launched in the '60s, we soon learned that the age of the average cited paper, depending upon the field, was 5 to 15 years old. In molecular biology, while 25 percent of cited papers were about 2 years old, the rest were much older. These data initially obscured the fact that a small group of papers were well cited within months of publication. It wasn't until 1975 that a series of essays in Current Contents identified the 100 most-cited life science papers published in the current year.1

Two years after we started The Scientist, we began a feature called "Hot Papers." A group of experts was assigned the "subjective" task of compiling lists of current articles they considered to be...

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