At PLOS ONE, we’ve been compiling year-end lists to reflect on the most popular articles and research videos published in our journal. But this year, we also wanted to compile an alternative list, based on article-level metrics (ALMs*), a collection of indicators that help us assess the impact a published article has made on the community and the public, which can be monitored over time. This list captures the top 20 articles of 2014 based on a review of ALMs data over the past 12 months and complements an earlier list we featured at the end of the summer.
Without further ado, this year’s top papers are below:
1. Text me about it: A pain in the neck
A study from January, “Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety,” suggests texting while walking impacts posture and balance. Over 27,000 views and 8600 PDF downloads–the most on our list–places this study at the top of our list. Maybe it’s time to look up from our phones—if not for other pedestrians’ sakes, at least for our own neck’s.
Published 1/22/2014, Image from the article
2. Concerns over testosterone therapy
Testosterone therapy may raise the risk of heart attack according to “Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men.” An EveryONE blog post from earlier this year highlighted the unusual trajectory of this paper in the media and the public, demonstrating an impact that reaches far beyond just ALMs.
3. Lizard tales: What lizard tails may tell us about regenerating human tissue
Scientists studied lizard tail regeneration to look for clues for how we might regenerate human tissue, according to “Transcriptomic Analysis of Tail Regeneration in the Lizard Anolis carolinensis Reveals Activation of Conserved Vertebrate Developmental and Repair Mechanisms.”
Published 8/20/2014, Image from the article
4. Baby, it’s cold in liquid nitrogen
In a study published in January, “A Leech Capable of Surviving Exposure to Extremely Low Temperatures,” scientists observed leeches surviving in liquid nitrogen for 24 hours and in -130 degrees F for up to 9 months.
Published 1/22/2014, Image from the article
5. Origami-inspired microscopes for under $1
“Foldscope: Origami-Based Paper Microscope,” published in June, described a low-cost, paper-based microscope called a Foldscope. Light weight and durable, the authors suggest this microscope could be useful in the field and for science education.
Published 6/18/2014, Image from the article
6. Developing tests for early cancer diagnosis
In a paper from October, “Sentinel” Circulating Tumor Cells Allow Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” authors analyzed the results of a blood test that could detect cells associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which may help with early diagnosis of lung cancer.
7. I’m a (Black Death) survivor
“Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death,” published in May, suggests people who survived the Black Death, as well as their descendants, lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic.
Published 5/7/2014, Image from the article
8. Lucky to be 110
Scientists sequenced the world’s oldest people’s genomes, but unfortunately, they didn’t find a genetic pattern to their longevity in the study, “Whole-Genome Sequencing of the World’s Oldest People.” No secret to a long life just yet.
9. That smarts!
Scientists analyzed Neanderthal history and genetics and suggest that maybe they weren’t less intelligent than modern humans, as previously thought, but rather interbred and assimilated with modern humans in a study “Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex,” published in April.
10. Study “yields” data for the GMO debate
A large meta-analysis suggests genetically modified crops (“GMOs”) may have widespread benefits for farmers, according to a study “A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops,” published in November. This article has the most page views on our list, with over 56,000 and has nearly 5000 PDF downloads. The article contributes data to ongoing debates around the world about the role genetically modified crops should play in agriculture and society.
11. Let’s talk jazz
Scientists found that a jazz improvisation technique called ‘trading fours,’ where soloists from an ensemble take turns playing four bars at a time, may engage language areas of the brain specialized for processing communication, according to the study “Neural Substrates of Interactive Musical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of “Trading Fours” in Jazz.”
Published 2/19/2014, Image from the article
12. Say what?
Linguists applied evolutionary analysis to the relationship between North American and Central Siberian languages and found that the relationship between them may show that people moved out from the Bering Land Bridge, with some migrating back to central Asia and others into North America, according to a study published in March, “Linguistic Phylogenies Support Back-Migration from Beringia to Asia.”
13. Daughter dearest
With over 19,000 views and over 1700 PDF downloads, a study, “Holsteins Favor Heifers, Not Bulls: Biased Milk Production Programmed during Pregnancy as a Function of Fetal Sex,” showing that daughters may get more milk from their mothers than sons, if you’re a cow that is, published in February.
Published 2/3/2014, Image from the article
14. Holy flying reptiles!
Scientists found a new flying reptile with a sail-shaped crest in a Brazilian boneyard, according to a study published in August, “Discovery of a Rare Pterosaur Bone Bed in a Cretaceous Desert with Insights on Ontogeny and Behavior of Flying Reptiles.”
15. Long labor
Possibly showing the earliest live birth from a Mesozoic marine reptile, a fossil displaying the birth has been discovered, according to the article, “Terrestrial Origin of Viviparity in Mesozoic Marine Reptiles Indicated by Early Triassic Embryonic Fossils.”
Published 2/12/2014, Image from the article
16. 3,000-year-old cancer
What may be the world’s oldest example of human cancer was found in 3,000 year-old bones from Sudan, according to a study from March, “On the Antiquity of Cancer: Evidence for Metastatic Carcinoma in a Young Man from Ancient Nubia (c. 1200BC).”
Published 3/17/2014, Image from the article
17. That stinks!
A failing sense of smell may be a predictor of mortality in older adults, according to a study published in October, “Olfactory Dysfunction Predicts 5-Year Mortality in Older Adults.”
18. Neanderthals might’ve loved their veggies
Analysis of the oldest human feces ever found may indicate that Neanderthals ate their vegetables, according to the study, “The Neanderthal Meal: A New Perspective Using Faecal Biomarkers.”
19. No need to re-invent the wheel…er, violin
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, then according to “Imitation, Genetic Lineages, and Time Influenced the Morphological Evolution of the Violin,” Stradivarius must be blushing. An analysis of violin shape and history suggests that Stradivarius and three other families likely influenced violin shape over the last four centuries, with many imitating their designs.
Published 10/8/2014, Image from the article
20. Glowing gobies and friends
Scientists have conducting a glowing review of fish and discovered over 180 biofluorescent fish in the ocean, according to “The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence: A Phylogenetically Widespread and Phenotypically Variable Phenomenon,” published in January.
Published 1/8/2014, Image from the article
It’s been another great year at PLOS ONE, and we hope you enjoyed reading this year’s top ALMs papers of 2014. If you’d like to make your own list, please check out our ALMs report.
* This list is selected from a report of papers generated based on the following ALMs ratio: PDF downloads/HTML ratios.
First Image: 20 – Cyrus Tabar