A new article (over 3000 words) by Richard Van Noorden, Brendan Mahe & Regina Nuzzo and published on Nature News takes a look at the Top 100 most cited articles of all time (specifically back to 1900). The complete lists are also available as XLS files.
The article begins:
Fifty years ago, Eugene Garfield published the Science Citation Index (SCI), the first systematic effort to track citations in the scientific literature. To mark the anniversary, Nature asked Thomson Reuters, which now owns the SCI, to list the 100 most highly cited papers of all time. The search covered all of Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science, an online version of the SCI that also includes databases covering the social sciences, arts and humanities, conference proceedings and some books. It lists papers published from 1900 to the present day.
Make sure to also take a look at this infoDOCKET post from May: Science Citation Index (Web of Science) Celebrates 50th Anniversary (May 13, 2014)
The Nature authors go on to point out that the SCI list is not the only one out there.
Google Scholar compiled its own top-100 list for Nature. It is based on many more citations because the search engine culls references from a much greater (although poorly characterized) literature base, including from a large range of books. In that list, economics papers have more prominence. Google Scholar’s list also features books, which Thomson Reuters did not analyse. But among the science papers, many of the same titles show up.
The complete article includes analysis along with an interactive graphic, infographic, an audio interview with Richard Van Noorden.
Direct to Science Citation Top 100 List (.xls)
Direct to Google Scholar Top 100 List (.xls)
Note: A copy of the infographic seen in the video embedded below is available here.