Using the Web of Science database, Jim Moody (Sociology, Duke University) and Charles Breton (Political Science, University of British Columbia) took the most-cited papers in their respective disciplines, and produced a Top 10 list for each decade going back to the 1950s. Not a table of which papers were most popular in those decades, but a table of which papers are NOW the most-cited FROM those decades. (Note that the 1950s category is really “1950s and before”.)
These interesting results regarding the two professions and fields of research teach us about: a) sociology of knowledge, b) politics of knowledge, and c) power of knowledge.
By the way, from the 1970s, the most cited paper is, of course, Mark Granovetter’s seminal “The Strength of Weak Ties”. So this is a great opportunity to recall that the most cited paper in social sciences ever was initially rejected – that’s an amazing story.
Here are the top 10 by decades for Sociology (on Kieran Healy’s blog) and for Political Science.