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In the past year, Altmetric has tracked over 17 million mentions of 2.7 million different research outputs. These are the top 100 most-discussed journal articles of 2016.

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  1. Article #1 of 100

    United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

    Special Communication in JAMA
    In the first academic paper to be published by a sitting president, Obama assesses the effect of the Affordable Care Act and recommends additional healthcare priorities for future governments.
  2. Article #2 of 100

    Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US

    Analysis in British Medical Journal
    Medical error is not included on death certificates or in rankings of cause of death. This article in the BMJ assesses its contribution to mortality and calls for better reporting.
  3. Article #3 of 100

    Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

    Article in Physical Review Letters
    The decades-long search for gravitational waves ended in celebration after physicists finally directly observed the phenomenon – when two distant black holes collided.
  4. Article #4 of 100

    Evidence for a Distant Giant Planet in the Solar System

    Article in The Astronomical Journal
    Astrophysicist Mike Brown might have been partly responsible for ending Pluto's planethood, but recent analyses by him and Konstantin Batygin at Caltech have suggested another planet – some 5,000 times the size of Pluto – lurking beyond the Kupier belt.
  5. Resesarchers from UCSF report that the sugar industry sponsored research which turned attention away from sugar's link with heart disease, instead stressing the effect of dietary fats and cholesterol.
  6. Article #6 of 100

    Zika Virus and Birth Defects — Reviewing the Evidence for Causality

    Special Report in New England Journal of Medicine
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in this review that infection with the Zika virus could cause complications including microcephaly and brain damage in infants born to infected mothers.
  7. MIT researchers link inequality to a large and growing gap in lifespans between the richest and poorest in the US, noting that low-income Americans can, on average, expect 10 to 15 fewer years of life.
  8. This two-year-long study of 500 overweight volunteers finds that wearing a fitness tracker does not appear to improve the amount of weight lost.
  9. The game of Go has long been viewed as challenging for artificial intelligence – this article introduces a new neural network algorithm which became the first to defeat a human professional player.
  10. Article #10 of 100

    The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness

    Article in Science Advances
    Researchers have created a new global atlas of light pollution, showing that the Milky Way is now invisible for 80% of Americans.
  11. Article #11 of 100

    Evidence for a limit to human lifespan

    Letter in Nature
    The team behind this study explored whether or not the length of human lifespan is constrained by species-specific genetic factors.
  12. Article #12 of 100

    The terrorist inside my husband's brain

    Editorial in Neurology
    Susan Schneider Williams, wife of actor Robin Williams, presents the human side of research in this personal account of losing her husband to Lewy body disease.
  13. An initial trial of an antibody therapy represents a positive step towards finding a treatment for early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
  14. This article looks at trends in adult body mass, including the factors that are contributing to an increasing rise in obesity.
  15. Reseachers discovered that new, deeper lakes are forming in east Antarctica each year, posing a potential future threat to low-lying populations.
  16. Does doing exercise make up for sitting around all day? The authors of this article found that high levels of moderately intense activity can help.
  17. The authors of this study went looking for a new antibiotic, and found it: up the human nose!
  18. Article #18 of 100

    The brain adapts to dishonesty

    Article in Nature Neuroscience
    How many little white lies have you told today? The ease with which we tell lies grows with repetition, according to the findings of this paper.
  19. This Special Communication provides an updated definition of the symptoms of Sepsis and Septic Shock.
  20. Article #20 of 100

    Zika Virus Associated with Microcephaly

    Brief report in New England Journal of Medicine
    This report exposes the link between the Zika virus and birth defects associated with microcephaly.
  21. A report released on pre-print server bioRxiv documents an increased risk of certain cancers in rats, following prolonged exposure to mobile phones.
  22. Article #22 of 100

    10-Year Outcomes after Monitoring, Surgery, or Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer

    Article in New England Journal of Medicine
    This study looked at what impacts different types of prostate cancer treatment had over a 10 year period.
  23. Article #23 of 100

    Transient Smartphone “Blindness”

    Correspondence in New England Journal of Medicine
    Could the light from your phone be impairing your sight? Researchers investigated the causes behind two reported cases of temporary vision loss caused by smartphones.
  24. In a revolutionary advancement, a paralyzed man has been equipped with a system that allowed him to control his right wrist and hand with his thoughts.
  25. Article #25 of 100

    Longer Contact Times Increase Cross-Contamination of Enterobacter aerogenes from Surfaces to Food

    Article in Applied & Environmental Microbiology
    This study confirms that the '5 second rule' is not a thing - with at least some bacteria transferred to food as soon as it's dropped.
  26. Article #26 of 100

    Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome

    Article in Science
    15 years after first setting out to achieve their goal, a team of scientists from the United States have succeeded in creating synthetic bacteria.
  27. Struggling to sleep in your unfamiliar hotel room? This study found that the left half of the human brain stays slightly awake during the first night in a new place.
  28. Exploring the gender bias in coding: women contribute higher quality open-source code than their male counterparts, but their suggestions are rejected more often.
  29. Scientists have identified that Greenland sharks have an average life span of 272 years, with some living to over 400!
  30. Article #30 of 100

    Neural mechanisms for lexical processing in dogs

    Report in Science
    It's not what you say, it's how you say it. The authors of this study found that dogs can interpret tone of voice in ways not previously realised.
  31. Article #31 of 100

    Escherichia coli Harboring mcr-1 and blaCTX-M on a Novel IncF Plasmid: First report of mcr-1 in the USA

    Letter in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
    This paper examines the growing threat of antibacterial resistance, evidenced in a patient who had developed a resistance to even the strongest antibiotic without ever having taken it.
  32. Article #32 of 100

    An elastic second skin

    Article in Nature Materials
    A team from MIT and Harvard have developed a 'second skin' that might one day help hide those wrinkles and protect you from the sun.
  33. Article #33 of 100

    The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles

    Report in Science
    Who gets to live? The moral implications of self-driving cars are explored in this study.
  34. Article #34 of 100

    Data Sharing.

    Editorial in New England Journal of Medicine
    The Editors of NEJM take a controversial stance on data sharing in this January 2016 piece, suggesting it may do more harm than good.
  35. Article #35 of 100

    Efficacy and Safety of an Injectable Combination Hormonal Contraceptive for Men

    Early Release Article in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
    This trial of injectable hormonal contraception for men was stopped early after some of the participants reported negative side effects.
  36. Article #36 of 100

    Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

    Article in Science
    Authored by researchers from MIT, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of Leeds, this paper reports that the hole in the ozone layer was found to be about 20% smaller than the previous year.
  37. This study investigates the link between the Zika virus and the dehabilitating neurological condition Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but much is still to be determined.
  38. CNRS researchers have discovered that a planet relatively close to Earth may hold huge amounts of liquid water.
  39. Article #39 of 100

    Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression

    Original Investigation in JAMA Psychiatry
    An investigation has revealed that women who take hormonal contraceptives are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or prescribed anti-depressants.
  40. Fossils discovered by Australian researchers in a remote area of Greenland provide evidence to support a theory of rapid development of early-stage life on Earth.
  41. This study found that pharmaceutical companies have increased the cost of over 400 generic drugs by over 1,000% since 2008.
  42. Feeling trippy? The visualisations produced by these researchers show how the brain 'lights up' when taking LSD, with potential implications for its application as an anti-depressant.
  43. Article #43 of 100

    Revealing a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in China

    Article in PNAS
    Never mind the latest craft beer trend, scholars from China and the US have analysed the remains of some 5,000 year-old pottery to determine what went into one of the earliest brews.
  44. The 3 planets discovered in this study are potentially habitable and just 40 light-years from Earth, making them the most suitable place to start looking for other life forms.
  45. The researchers behind this paper looked at how an economic downturn can affect your health - and found that it has a drastic effect on the number of cancer deaths.
  46. Who's to blame when you get sick? The findings of this paper debunk the idea that just one person brought HIV/AIDS to the United States.
  47. Article #47 of 100

    A multi-modal parcellation of human cerebral cortex

    Article in Nature
    Scientists have created the most accurate map of the human cortex to date, and their work brings huge benefits for future research.
  48. Article #48 of 100

    Rejection of rejection: a novel approach to overcoming barriers to publication

    Article in British Medical Journal
    Tired of rejections of your paper? These authors have a novel and comical approach to dealing with the situation.
  49. Article #49 of 100

    Zika Virus in the Americas - Yet Another Arbovirus Threat.

    Perspective in New England Journal of Medicine
    A Perspective on the growth and spread of the Zika virus, and analysis of the reponse to date.
  50. Dinosaurs were in decline long before the meteorite struck, according to the findings of this study published in PNAS.
  51. Article #51 of 100

    Multi-locus Analyses Reveal Four Giraffe Species Instead of One

    Report in Current Biology
    Until this year it was widely believed that there was only one species of Giraffe, This research found that there are in fact four, and that they only mate with their own kind.
  52. Article #52 of 100

    CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016

    Report in MMWR Recommendations & Reports
    In an effort to combat the growing issues of Opiod addiction, these guidelines advise primary care physicians how they should be prescribing the drugs.
  53. A newly identified bacteria described in this study has the ability to degrade plastic, pointing to potentially huge environmental benefits for the future.
  54. This article describes the impact that the Zika virus can have on developing foetal brains, further evidence of the dangers of this growing epidemic.
  55. What we eat has a huge impact on the world around us. The findings of this study suggest that adopting a vegetarian diet might be the best way to protect our environment.
  56. Article #56 of 100

    Gradual Versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation

    Article in Annals of Internal Medicine
    Want to quit smoking? Going 'cold turkey' might be your best option, according to this study.
  57. Article #57 of 100

    Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality

    Original Investigation in JAMA Internal Medicine
    Eating your greens really is good for you! Research has proved that consuming more plant-based protein can lead to increased life expectancy.
  58. Article #58 of 100

    The ‘Tully monster’ is a vertebrate

    Letter in Nature
    They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but this time it was more a case of the eyes being the proof of the species! Distinctive pigment cells found by the authors of this study prove that the Tully Monster is a vertebrate.
  59. A shocking discovery: 10% of the world's wilderness has been lost in the last 2 decades alone.
  60. This paper was one of two studies published in Nature that dramatically increase our understanding of early humans and their 'hobbit' ancestors
  61. Article #61 of 100

    Association Between Portable Screen-Based Media Device Access or Use and Sleep Outcomes…

    Original Investigation in JAMA Pediatrics
    Past their bedtime and still bouncing off the walls? This study explores the effect of smartphone and screen usage on children's sleep, with recommendations for how an integrated approach from key caregivers might result in improvements.
  62. This research uncovers huge methodical flaws with the way that thousands of studies have been run and recorded.
  63. Article #63 of 100

    Apollo Lunar Astronauts Show Higher Cardiovascular Disease Mortality…

    Article in Scientific Reports
    The final frontier? Researchers from across the United States have identified potential health issues linked to deep space travel, with big implications for astronauts and future missions.
  64. This article, later retracted, caused huge controversy when readers found reference to 'the Creator' throughout the text.
  65. Many were surprised (and appalled) to learn that some U.S. doctors spend two hours in front of computers for every four hours they spend with patients.
  66. Article #66 of 100

    A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity

    Short Communication in Social Science & Medicine
    Book lovers, rejoice! This research identified a link between reading and a longer life - all the more reason to not put down that page-turner.
  67. Article #67 of 100

    The Genome Project-Write

    Policy Forum in Science
    This article engendered much debate for its proposal of an intriguing follow-up to the Human Genome Project: technology and an ethical framework for creating a synthetic genome.
  68. This paper found that over 30% of antibiotic prescriptions in the United States are unneccesary.
  69. Might a universal cancer vaccine be available soon? This study has caused many to believe that a cancer-free future is closer than we think.
  70. Article #70 of 100

    A genetic assessment of the English bulldog

    Article in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology
    English bulldogs now claim the dubious distinction of being the unhealthiest canine breed, thanks to overbreeding by humans.
  71. Article #71 of 100

    The ASA's statement on p-values: context, process, and purpose

    Editorial in The American Statistician
    The American Statistical Association warns that the incorrect use and interpretation of p-values may be damaging to science.
  72. Article #72 of 100

    The Evolution of Galaxy Number Density at z < 8 and its Implications

    Article in The Astrophysical Journal
    The truth is out there: this study suggests that there may be ten times more galaxies in existence than previously thought.
  73. Researchers at Rutgers University have discovered that sea levels have risen faster in the last century than at any point in the previous 2,700 years.
  74. If you have small kidney stones, you may be able to benefit from riding a rollercoaster--at least, according to a group of doctors who ran ingenious experiments with silicone kidneys aboard sixty Disney World rides.
  75. Article #75 of 100

    Happy heart syndrome: role of positive emotional stress in takotsubo syndrome

    Article in European Heart Journal
    Sadly, this study found that happy life events may trigger "takotsubo syndrome" (broken heart syndrome).
  76. We've long known of the link between smoking and cancer. This study gives us new insight into precisely how tobacco smoke does its damage.
  77. In the library with the lead pipe? No, the fate of Lucy--"among the oldest and most complete fossil hominin skeletons discovered"--was much less nefarious. She likely died of a fall from a tall tree.
  78. Scientists may have found the fountain of youth! By clearing the body of damaged cells, this study's authors prolonged the life of mice by over 30%.
  79. Article #79 of 100

    A new view of the tree of life

    Letter in Nature Microbiology
    This study suggests that humans are but a small, rather insignificant part of the ever-growing tree of life.
  80. Article #81 of 100

    Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults

    Original investigation in JAMA Internal Medicine
    Great news for gym bunnies: this study found that exercise is associated with lower cancer risk, even for smokers.
  81. In this study, parapalegic patients had improved outcomes after using virtual reality.
  82. Psilocybin, a compound found in "magic mushrooms", was found to help mental health outcomes in a small group of patients suffering from depression.
  83. Humankind has certainly made its mark upon Earth, according to this study: the Anthropocene era has been found to have distinct environmental markers, including radioactive fallout particulates, plastics, and sea-level rise.
  84. This study disproved the assumption that children are the cause for their parents' gray hairs. Instead, researchers found the genes responsible for those gray hairs, along with those linked to bushy eyebrows and patchy beards.
  85. This study describes a very scary, colistin resistant super-bug that has been found in China.
  86. Article #87 of 100

    Pharmaceutical Industry–Sponsored Meals and Physician Prescribing Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries

    Original investigation in JAMA Internal Medicine
    Ask your doctor who's buying her dinner! This study found an association between pharamceutical industry-sponsored meals for physicians and their rate of prescribing name-brand medicines.
  87. Opioid poisonings are on the rise among children, according to this article.
  88. Among participants in the extreme US weight loss television show, "The Biggest Loser," few were able to keep the weight off long-term.
  89. Struggling to shake the puppy fat? Dog's genes might be the cause behind their weight issues, according to the authors of this paper.
  90. Article #91 of 100

    Alcohol consumption as a cause of cancer

    For Debate in Addiction
    This study links alcohol consumption with cancer, especially among the sedentary. However, the risk was much smaller amongst the physically active--so get to running!
  91. Article #92 of 100

    Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro — Preliminary Report

    Article in New England Journal of Medicine
    By monitoring a group of pregnant women, Brazilian researchers have been able to confirm the link between infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy and grave outcomes, including fetal death or growth restriction.
  92. This study mapped the brain to help us understand how humans give meaning to words.
  93. Article #94 of 100

    Earliest hominin cancer: 1.7-million-year-old osteosarcoma from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa

    Article in South African Journal of Science
    This paper describes an incidence of the oldest known cancer in humans. Researchers found evidence of tumours in a 1.7 million year old fossil from a human ancestor.
  94. Bad news for those with a sweet tooth: this study found that soda taxes decreased the consumption of sugary beverages in Mexico.
  95. Article #96 of 100

    Acne and telomere length. A new spectrum between senescence and apoptosis pathways

    Article in Journal of Investigative Dermatology
    This study found a genetic link between acne and delayed aging of the skin.
  96. How many 'friends' do you have online? This study found that Facebook users who accept more friendship requests have a lower mortality rate.
  97. New recommendations state that screening for colorectal cancer should being at age 50 years and continue until 75.
  98. The introduction of meat and new ways of preparing food changed the path of human evolution. With less time needed for chewing, our early ancestors had the opportunity to develop in other ways.
  99. Being lonely has many implications for your mental and physical health: this study found that loneliness can actually increase your risk of heart disease.