Which articles and which topics in the forensic sciences are most highly cited?

A W Jones
Science & Justice: Journal of the Forensic Science Society 2005, 45 (4): 175-82
Forensic science is a multidisciplinary field, which covers many branches of the pure, the applied and the biomedical sciences. Writing-up and publishing research findings helps to enhance the reputation of the investigators and the laboratories where the work was done. The number of times an article is cited in the reference lists of other articles is generally accepted as a mark of distinction. Indeed, citation analysis has become widely used in research assessment of individual scientists, university departments and entire nations. This article concerns the most highly cited papers published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences (JFS) between 1956 and 2005. These were identified with the help of Web-of-Science, which is the on-line version of Science Citation Index, produced by Thomson Institute for Scientific Information (Thomson ISI) with head offices in Philadelphia, USA. This database tracks, among other things, the annual citation records of articles published in several thousand scientific journals worldwide. Those JFS articles accumulating 50 or more citations were identified and rank-ordered according to the total number of citations. These articles were also evaluated according to the name of first author, the subject category of the article, the country of origin and the pattern of co-authorship. This search strategy located 46 articles cited between 50 and 292 times since they first appeared in print. The most highly cited paper by far was by Kasai, Nakamura and White (USA and Japan) concerning DNA profiling and the application of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in forensic science. Some forensic scientists appeared as first author on two to three highly cited articles, namely Wetli (USA), Budowle (USA) and Comey (USA). When the highly cited articles were sub-divided into subject category, 15 were identified as coming from toxicology, closely followed by criminalistics (14 articles), pathology (nine articles), physical anthropology (five articles), forensic psychiatry (two articles) and one from odontology. The number of co-authors on these highly cited articles ranged from one to nine and the names of some investigators appeared on as many as four highly cited papers. The vast majority of papers originated from US laboratories although five came from Japan, two each from Sweden and Canada and there was also a joint USA-Swiss collaboration. The Thompson ISI citation databases provide unique tools for tracking citations to individual articles and impact and citation records of scholarly journals.

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