The top 10 journal articles published in 2009 by readership on Mendeley

Having seen a lot of ‘top 10 lists of 2009’ around, we thought we’d throw in our two cents and give you the top 10 most read articles on Mendeley, published in 2009!

The top paper for 2009 was written by Uri Alon, entitled: ‘How to choose a good scientific problem’, published in the journal “Molecular Cell.” Our stats tell us that there are currently 74 Mendeley users who have read this paper, even though it was only published in late 2009.

The full list of the top ten articles published in 2009 on Mendeley (as of 28th January 2010) is:

1. Uri Alon, ‘How to choose a good scientific problem’, Molecular Cell (2009), Volume: 35, Issue: 6

2. Castro Neto et al, ‘The electronic properties of graphene’, Reviews of Modern Physics (2009), Volume: 81, Issue: 1

3. Erez Lieberman-Aiden et al, ‘Comprehensive mapping of long-range interactions reveals folding principles of the human genome’, Science (2009), Volume: 326, Issue: 5950

4. Ed Bullmore & Olaf Sporns, ‘Complex brain networks: graph theoretical analysis of structural and functional systems’, Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2009), Volume: 10, Issue: 3

5. Zhong Wang, Mark Gerstein, Michael Snyder, ‘RNA-Seq: a revolutionary tool for transcriptomics’, Nature Reviews Genetics (2009), Volume: 10, Issue: 1

6. Development Core Team, ‘R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing’, R Foundation for Statistical Computing (2009) Volume: 2, Issue: 09/18/2009

7. Fatih Ozsolak et al, ‘Direct RNA sequencing’, Nature, Volume: 461, Issue: 7265

8. Benjamin M Bolker et al, ‘Generalized linear mixed models: a practical guide for ecology and evolution’, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2009), Volume: 24, Issue: 3

9. Michael Schmidt & Hod Lipson, ‘Distilling free-form natural laws from experimental data’, Science (2009), Volume: 324, Issue: 592

10. Stephen J Eglen, ‘A quick guide to teaching R programming to computational biology students’, PLoS Computational Biology (2009), Volume: 5, Issue: 8

We’d like to point out that this isn’t an authoritative list of all the ‘most read articles for 2009’. Instead, these are the ones that appear in Mendeley user libraries and show some early indications of the popularity of a journal article. We will also track the evolution of these stats over the course of 2010.

Readership complementing the impact factor

With Mendeley’s growing user base, the readership count can complement other measures, such as citation metrics, adding an extra dimension to assessing a journal article’s impact.

For example, the article “How to choose a good scientific problem” is a general interest article, rather than being specific to biology which suggests it is not likely to have a high citation count in future primary research literature.

Nonetheless, it is already the most read paper on Mendeley published in 2009, a factor that would otherwise be missed. This indicates that the readership count can allude to other ways in which articles are used within a community, and therefore increase awareness of what should be read. The next step will be to anonymously track reading time and quality rating metrics to gather the most accurate data possible for our upcoming personalized recommendation engine.

Predicting research trends?

Understanding and predicting research trends is an important part of research. The citation count, used for decades as the gold standard in article-level metrics, can verify broad trends occurring within academic disciplines such as biology. While quite accurate, official citation metrics take two years to calculate. In contrast, readership statistics may be able to predict similar trends in real-time.

For example, look at The Scientist’s list of the hottest biology papers in 2009 (all published in 2007). The readership count for these papers on Mendeley correlates with ISI’s citation count at r=.76 (two-tailed, p=.13 due to the low sample size) – a near perfect correlation, even if only based on five papers and our userbase of just over 100,000 users:

Comparison of Mendeley’s most read papers with the ISI Citations

Publication ISI Citations Readers on Mendeley
A M. Werning, et al., “In vitro reprogramming of fibroblasts into a pluripotent ES-cell-like state,” Nature 448: 318-24, 2007. 512 26
E. Birney, et al., “Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project,” Nature 447: 799-816, 2007. 618 63
A. Barski, et al., “High-resolution profiling of histone methylations in the human genome,” Cell 129: 823-37, 2007. 560 33
K.A. Frazer, et al., “A second generation human haplotype map of over 3.1 million SNPs,” Nature 449: 854-61, 2007. 588 46
K. Takahashi, et al., “Induction of pluripotent stem cells from adult human fibroblasts by defined factors,” Cell 131: 861-72, 2007. 886 64

Pearson Correlation r = .76

We look forward to comparing the top 10 list shown above to the official ISI citation metrics for 2009 publications when they are calculated and released later in 2010 or 2011.

In summary, using Mendeley’s readership figures alongside the citation metrics should make it possible in the future to evaluate the scope of a journal article within the community more effectively. Finally, further refinements and understanding of readership metrics might make it possible to identify the next big trend in the academic world.


The top 10 list was made by noting how many times a paper appears in the libraries of individual Mendeley users (readership count) and how many distinct user tags were attributed to that paper (tag count), then we filtered the results to include only papers from 2009 – done!

6 thoughts on “The top 10 journal articles published in 2009 by readership on Mendeley

  1. Interesting to see that 2.5 of 10 are about R (

    (The .5 comes from the Bolker article; while about GLMM generally, it refers to R specifically, especially in the supplementary material.)

  2. Just a note on your “reader” statistics: I have 340 papers in my literature database, 127 of which I actually read apart from the abstract. So “reader” suggests more than it is.

    • Hi Anon, thanks for your feedback. We are planning to introduce more specific metrics to determine readers in the future so that is something we’re working on.

  3. Thanks for this list.
    How do I find researches done on language and semantics? Will be grateful for pointers to such research material.

    • Hi Ashish, at the moment you can use the people search field for this which also searches in publications which are authored by our users: We are planning to introduce a search feature for the complete research catalog in the near future.

  4. The link for paper #2 is incorrect. It leads to a different article in the journal Reviews of Modern Physics. (more reliance on DOI’s would make this kind of error less frequent….)

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