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Bibliographic analysis of papers and authors published in Tobacco Control 1998–September 2011
  1. Simon Chapman1,
  2. Gemma Derrick2
  1. 1School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Instituto de Politcas y Bienes Publicos, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Consejo Superior Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Simon Chapman, University of Sydney, School of Public Health, Edward Ford Building A27, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; simon.chapman{at}


In the present work, the top 20 cited papers published in Tobacco Control between 1998 and 15 September 2011, the top 10 cited papers published after 2008 and the 50 authors whose papers have been most cited in the journal are reported. US authors dominated the most cited papers and the most cited authors, with Australian authors in second place. Papers on youth and secondhand smoke dominated the top 20 papers, although harm reduction and packaging papers appeared in the post 2008 leading cited papers.

  • Litigation
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • advertising and promotion
  • packaging and labelling
  • advocacy

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Tobacco Control has been published since 1992, and was first indexed by the Web of Science from the (northern hemisphere) autumn edition in 1998 (ie, issue 3). As of 1 August 2011, 2147 articles of all types (including news items) have been published and cited 19 417 times. The journal's current (2010) impact factor (IF) is 3.077, and its 5 year IF is 4.378. In the Public, Environmental and Occupational Health category, the journal ranks 25th out of 140 journals for its current IF and 12th for its 5 year IF. This compares to Nicotine & Tobacco Research (29th with 2.801 and 31st at 5 years with 3.103) and Addiction (second in the much smaller Substance Abuse category with 4.145 and first at 5 years with 5.001). On Tobacco Control's 5 year IF, the journal is the leading ‘single issue’ public health journal (all with IFs above Tobacco Control are broad epidemiology and public health journals attracting readerships and authors from diverse branches of public health). Tobacco Control is just two ranks below the American Journal of Public Health, and ahead of many renowned journals such as Social Science and Medicine (3.484), Preventive Medicine (3.520) and Cancer Causes and Control (3.311).

Here, we report on the top 20 cited papers and top 50 authors whose work has been most cited in the journal in the 1998 to September 2011 period.


On 15 September 2011 the Institute of Scientific Information's Web of Science was searched for all publications published in Tobacco Control. Results returned were sorted by citation volume and the top 20 cited papers for the full period extracted (table 1), as well as the 10 most cited papers published after 2008 (to show the leading recently published papers). These were categorised by type of paper (narrative or systematic review or meta-analysis; original article), principal focus of content and country where the first author was resident for all or most of their research published in the journal. We then examined the distribution of citations from zero through to the highest band of citation (table 2).

Table 1

Top 20 cited papers, Tobacco Control autumn 1998–June 2011 and top 10 cited papers 2008–present

Table 2

Citation volumes for 2147 articles published fall 1998–15 September 2011 (percentages)

All authors who had published in the journal since the date of indexing (1999) were also then ranked by total number of citations to all the publications in the journal, regardless of type. Their total number of publications in Tobacco Control, citations per paper and their Tobacco Control H index were calculated (table 3). The H index1 is a measure of citation volume over time whereby an H index of 10 means that an author has 10 publications that have been each cited at least 10 times; an H index of 15, 15 papers cited at least 15 times and so on. As such, when applied to authorship within a journal over time, it captures those authors whose work has collectively been most cited across a range of papers in that journal.

Table 3

Top 50 authors ranked by total citations for articles in Tobacco Control, 1 August 2011


Table 1 shows the top 20 cited papers published since 1998 and the leading 10 most cited papers published after 2008. The categories with the most papers in the top 20 were youth (7), secondhand smoke (6), cessation (3) and industry document research (2). There were 7 review articles and 13 original articles. As with nearly all fields of scholarship, US first authors dominated the top 20 papers, with 13 papers. Of the top 20 first authors, 7 were women. Unlike the overall period, 4 out of 10 of the most cited recently published papers concerned harm reduction, and 2 concerned packaging.

More than one-third of all articles published since 1998 have never been cited, and just over 74% have been cited <10 times. Many of the uncited papers were short news analysis items. Only 1 in 165 papers has been cited 100 or more times, and only 1 in 29 has received 50 or more cites.


Table 3 shows the top 50 authors, ranked by total citations of their post 1998 papers in Tobacco Control. The Cancer Council Victoria's Ron Borland received the most citations, and the highest H score, but 21 of the 50 authors had higher cites per article than Borland. A total of 14 of the top 50 authors and 9 of the top 10 had a Tobacco Control H index score of 10 or more, arguably the best measure of consistently well cited articles across time. The most published author (S Chapman, the deputy editor and editor for much of the indexed period) had 90 articles, but the lowest citations per article in the top 50, reflecting many editorials and news analysis pieces among his publications, which are typically poorly cited. As with the top cited articles, the top 50 authors were dominated by US authors (32), followed by Australia (9), UK (6) and Canada (3). While Tobacco Control strives to be a truly international journal, none of the top 50 authors were from non-Anglophone nations, Latin America, Africa or Asia.


Citation is a measure of scientific impact within the research community and Tobacco Control has achieved and maintained a pleasing IF relative to its main competitors. Review articles are well known to attract citations, so there is little surprise that 7 of the top 20 cited papers were reviews. In 2006, the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC) published its first papers in Tobacco Control. A total of 28 have since been published in the journal, including papers in 2 supplements. These have been cited 719 times, with an average of 25.68 per paper and an H of 13. While only 1 ITC paper is in the top 20 all-time cited papers, there are 6 ITC papers (12%) in the top 50, suggesting that with time more ITC papers may move into the top 20 because they are relatively recent. In all, 6 of the top 10 cited authors are researchers who are heavily (although not exclusively) engaged in the ITC project.

In our list of leading 50 authors in Tobacco Control as measured by citation volume of their Tobacco Control papers, there are 6 outlying authors with citations per paper higher than 50 (71.4–293). All of these authors had published <4 papers with Tobacco Control, with all having Tobacco Control H indexes of <4 and owe their position in the top 50 to a single or a few heavily cited papers.

Tobacco Control has always been a journal committed to publishing research, analysis and commentary that will be strategically useful to policy advocates and practitioners, in addition to generating interest among other researchers. While we are always delighted when a paper attracts healthy citations, we are also happy to publish papers that we judge as being likely to be of clear strategic importance in advancing public and political debates. This may not necessarily translate into high scholarly interest, although there is a strong association between news media interest, paper downloads from the journal website and subsequent citations.2 Our Ad Watch, Industry Watch and Advocacy in Action sections are good examples of sections of the journal that we believe have wide appeal to practitioners. However, we have published many influential research papers over the years that have often provided critical information that has been useful to policy debates. The top 20 cited papers contain several of these, such as Scollo et al's review of the quality of research on the impact of smoke-free venue policies on the hospitality industry3 and Dearlove et al's examination of tobacco industry efforts to manipulate the hospitality industry.4 Such papers can be far more influential than merely being cited by other researchers: their findings can enter into public and political discourse and become the taken-for-granted understanding of an issue. There is a small recent literature examining the associations and differences between traditional bibliographic measures of research impact and peer-assessed measures of wider, social impact of research in public health5 6 but no easy or reliable way of quantifying different levels of social and legislative impact on tobacco control.



  • Funding This study was supported by NHMRC grant 570870.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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