With a new decade as well as a new year upon us, The Scientist conducted a review of the scientific literature of the past 10 years to identify the 1980s' most significant research developments. There are, of course, many ways to pinpoint important events or trends, but in this case the criterion used was the number of citations to scientific papers published since 1980, as recorded in the Science Citation Index (SCI) of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia.

Using this methodology, signal transduction, AIDS, and superconductivity emerged as three key research areas of the decade.

The accompanying table lists the 10 papers of the 1980s that garnered the greatest number of citations by the end of 1988. (The citation tallies for 1989 were not yet complete at the time of writing.) Excluded were methods papers, which because of their wide applicability tend to be much more frequently...

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