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What are the most frequently cited physics textbooks?

  1. Dec 16, 2014 #1
    What are the most frequently cited __________ textbooks in the physics literature?

    Where __________ is:

    • thermodynamics
    • quantum mechanics
    • classical mechanics
    • electromagnetism
    • etc.

    I'm looking for lists based on citation statistics. Surely there are citations data out there on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What do you mean by "literature"? Research papers don't cite textbooks, at least I don't remember ever seeing one that did.
  4. Dec 19, 2014 #3


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    Education Advisor

    The material contained in a physics textbook falls more under the realm of "assumed knowledge" as far as physics research goes. It's well established material. One isn't going to cite a physics textbook as a 'source' for using Newton's 2nd Law, Conservation of Energy, Maxwell's Equations, or the Schrodinger Equation. It's foundational to the field and doesn't need to be cited.

    I could see citations being used from a textbook on a more controversial topic such as String Theory or Loop Quantum Gravity and such, where it may not be such common knowledge. But even still, the things contained in those textbooks are generally fundamental to the specific field being researched, and typically aren't being debated(within the scope of the field). A typical researcher would assume that the people who are reading their paper would know what was being referenced.
  5. Dec 24, 2014 #4
    Hard to answer. When I was doing volcanology I saw Landau's text on fluids cited maybe twice. I recall seeing Boyd's text "Nonlinear Optics" cited once. Also, Wikipedia states that Callen's text "Thermodynamics and Introduction to Thermostatistics" is highly cited in literature.
  6. Dec 30, 2014 #5


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Books are cited in literature. As an example, according to google scholar, Stratton's "Electromagnetic Theory" has been cited thousands of times:


    some of those citations are from books, but many are from literature. You can get a notion of citations from google scholar, but better tools may exist.

    Do such citations make sense? Sometimes yes, especially if it is to justify a result most people don't know off the top of their heads. Sometimes no.

    A better questions is: what difference does it make? I would pick a book because it was suitable for the intended purpose, whether or not anyone ever cites it.

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