The 10 most popular academic papers of 2015

Alternative metrics reveal the research that received the most online attention

December 14, 2015

A study detailing the discovery of a new antibiotic that inhibits the growth of drug-resistant bacteria has topped a list of the most popular online papers of the year.

The article, “A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance”, published in Nature in January 2015, took pole position in a top 100 list compiled by Altmetric, a London start-up that tracks and analyses the online activity around scholarly literature. The term “altmetrics” describes the practice of rating papers using “alternative metrics”, such as mentions on social media networking sites, rather than, for example, citations in other journals.

Other research that caught the public’s attention in 2015 include an article highlighting an association between religion and selfishness in children (10th) and an investigation that revealed that there are more than five trillion plastic pieces, weighing more than 250,000 tons, afloat in our oceans (sixth).

The top 10 most popular academic papers of 2015

  1. A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance
  2. Autism occurrence by MMR vaccine status among US children with older siblings with and without autism
  3. Accelerated modern human-induced species losses: entering the sixth mass extinction
  4. Cancer etiology. Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions
  5. Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science
  6. Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans: more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea
  7. The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C
  8. An efficiency comparison of document preparation systems used in academic research and development
  9. A neural algorithm of artistic style
  10. The negative association between religiousness and children’s altruism across the world

The full top 100 list, along with more information about the methodology, is available at Altmetric.com

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate