The INSPIRE service is operated by a global consortium, including IHEP in Beijing , We strive to connect the global High-Energy Physics (HEP) community, indexing over 1.000.000 relevant publications and offering accurate author profiles with citation statistics. . To celebrate our global reach, and serve the diversity of our community, some of our blog posts relevant to the Chinese HEP community will also appear in Chinese on our pages.

Let us know what you think about this and check out INSPIRE-HEP blog and twitter for more news. Our Chinese colleagues can also check our China Weibo micro-blog

What is THOR?

If you haven’t heard about the THOR project, you’re missing out on a lot of changes in the open scientific community and the forces that drive these changes forward. THOR is a 30-month project funded by the European Commission. Its purpose is to establish seamless integration between articles, data, and researchers across the research lifecycle. This will create a wealth of open resources and foster a sustainable international e-infrastructure. THOR started this June and its goal is to improve the interconnection of the existent persistent identifiers so that a researcher will not have the need for multiple persistent identifiers that provide information only for a part of his research. Moreover, it aims to form economies of scale, enrich existing research services, and create opportunities for innovative solutions throughout the lifecycle of scientific research projects.

How does THOR work?

THOR’s main goal is to create sustainable services, not just prototypes or proofs of concept. These services will be built to be accessible to all researchers, no matter which discipline, institution or country they work in. The INSPIRE team at CERN, along with DataCite and ORCID, will collaborate with the British Library, EMBL, DRYAD, ANDS, PLOS, Pangaea and ELSEVIER, organisations and publishers from a variety of scientific fields.

All of THOR’s initiatives revolve around the following set of actions and proposals:

  • The leverage of two community-driven global persistent identifier (PID) initiatives for contributors (ORCID profiles) and scientific data artifacts (DOIs through DataCite) to build tools to serve the evolving needs of the research community
  • Deliver PID-based services to submit, identify, attribute, and cite artefacts, starting with four disciplinary communities: Biological and Medical sciences, Environmental and Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences and the Humanities
  • Create PID integration and interoperability solutions for research institutions, libraries, data centers, publishers, and research funders
  • Enhance the expertise of the European research community by running an intensive training program, and creating a knowledge base for practitioners integrating PIDs into research information systems.


Because of the nature of the community and the existing infrastructure that INSPIRE has built over the years, it is one of the most significant THOR project partners. INSPIRE’s database and author profiles are perfect candidates for the integration of the two PID-based services mentioned, ORCID and DataCite, which present a way to create a bidirectional connection with other scientific communities and repositories. These kinds of features improve the workflow of the users of INSPIRE by building seamless connections to other services such as HepData, which connects the author’s research papers with the corresponding data, and more importantly promote a new era of “open-access”-friendly scientific information services.

If you are interested in project THOR and/or have questions about the actions it promotes, feel free to contact us at [email-address], follow project THOR on Twitter, or leave your comments below.

The 2013 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to two particle physics theorists – François Englert and Peter W. Higgs today “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”

The theorists published their papers independently in 1964 – the first one by François Englert and Robert Brout, and, a month later, a pair of papers by Peter Higgs.

In the graph below you can see the number of citations that each of the papers received yearly since 1964 when they were published, peaking in 2012 with the latest Higgs boson search results.

Click to enlarge the picture

The theories were confirmed on 4th July 2012, by ATLAS and CMS, the two experiments at the LHC that were searching for the new particle. The two collaborations include more than 3000 people each.

The two papers published shortly after the first evidence presented by the experiments, accumulated enormous numbers of citations in just one year.

About a month ago the ATLAS experiment made the datasets behind the likelihood function associated to the Higgs boson property measurements available to the public in digital format. The datasets can be easily accessed on INSPIRE.

More about the Nobel prize in today’s CERN press release.

Exactly one year ago, on July 4th 2012, ATLAS and CMS presented evidence for a new particle behaving like the long-sought-after Higgs boson.

By the end of the month, two papers from ATLAS and CMS were published describing this discovery. Unsurprisingly, they rapidly accumulated an enormous number of more than 1000 citations in less than a year. Below is a graph of the distribution of the citations that the two papers have gathered until now. These counts include an INSPIRE ‘speciality’: we take into account the references to both version of a work: the published article and the arXiv preprint.

To look at this in context: among the million records in INSPIRE, only 512 papers so far have passed the 1000 citations mark. Of course, several of those describe major discoveries, such as the W and Z bosons, the top quark, and the ‘November revolution’ J/psi meson papers.

In their first year, the articles announcing the W and Z boson discoveries received a total of over 600 citations, while the two ‘November Revolution’ papers (BNL and SLAC) collected a total of around 1100 citations. The top quark discovery papers by Fermilab gathered a total of 1200 citations in one year.

For comparison, the highest-cited paper ever is Maldacena’s famous paper on the connection between string theory and quantum field theory, now closing in on 10,000 citations. It received just under 500 citations in its first year.

The large collaborations at the LHC have an unusual intermediate form of publication: the conference note.  These are significant results prepared by the collaboration for major international conferences (not to be confused with proceedings written by a conference attendee).  They are  heavily peer-reviewed within the collaboration, signed by the collaboration as a whole, and often precede submission to a journal.  Moreover, these conference notes typically provide more detail than the documents submitted for publication, which makes them particularly valuable to anyone following the research closely.

However, finding these conference notes has confounded almost everyone that has looked for them.  They are “catalogued” in a maze of wiki pages, plain HTML pages, and various categories in the CERN document server (CDS).  While CDS is based on the same underlying Invenio technology, it lacks much of the functionality that INSPIRE offers.  In particular, there has been no way to easily navigate references, track citations, or generate bibliographic information.

This situation improved dramatically when both ATLAS and CMS agreed to put these conference notes into INSPIRE.  There are already more than 800 conference notes indexed, with many more to come!

For example, you can find the ATLAS conference notes with
find r atlas-conf-*
and the CMS Physics Analysis Summaries (PAS) with
find r cms-pas-*

Now, I can easily track citations to a recent conference note on the Higgs decaying to photons; perform a full text search for the word “asymptotic“; and see which ATLAS conference notes have been cited by CERN theorist Christophe Grojean.

As an author of several of these conference notes, I am particularly excited about the ability to generate standard bibliography entries.  For example, I can easily export a .bib file for all the 2012 ATLAS conference notes.  This will be a huge time savings for the collaborations and a great example of the impact an excellent literature database can have!

When it comes to INSPIRE searching, large collaborations have two notable features: they write a lot of papers and they have a lot of authors. This can lead to two difficulties when searching:

  • Because collaborations have a lot of authors, many searches for theorists and other authors not on a collaboration will also return papers by collaborations where someone has a similar name.
  • If you are looking for papers by the full collaboration, individual members of the collaboration write a lot of conference papers and these will also show when you try to find the official results of the full collaboration.

INSPIRE can help with both of these issues using a new feature, the author-count (ac) index, introduced recently on our blog. To address challenge 1 you can limit the search to papers with less than, say, 10 authors, e.g.: find a j smith and ac 1->10

To address challenge 2 you want to restrict the result to papers with, say, greater than 100 authors, e.g.: find exp cern-lhc-atlas and ac 100+

As always, INSPIRE allows you to use author-count in all kinds of searches to get just the result you want.

P.S. You can also figure out the citation summary for the papers that, for example, Richard Feynman wrote alone with find a feynman and ac 1.