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Productivity and impact of astronomical facilities: A recent sample


The papers published in 11 key astronomical journals in 2008, and a year of citations to those from the first half of the year, have been associated with the telescopes, satellites, and so forth where the data were gathered using a form of fractional counting. Some numbers are also given by journal, by subfield, and by wavelength band. The largest numbers of papers, and generally also quite highly cited ones, in their respective wavelength bands come from the Very Large Array, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Telescope. Optical astronomy is still the largest sector; and papers about cosmology and exoplanets are cited more often than papers about binary stars and planetary nebulae. The authors conclude that it is of equal importance to recognize (a) that a very large number of papers also come from less famous facilities, (b) that a very large fraction of papers (and their authors) are concerned with the less highly-cited topics, (c) that many facilities are quite slow in achieving their eventual level of influence, and (d) that one really needs at least three years of citation data, not just one or two, to provide a fair picture of what is going on. © 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH&Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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