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70 years of the JCP-highly cited papers: The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer
  1. Runjan Chetty
  1. Correspondence to Professor Runjan Chetty, Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, 11th Floor, Eaton Wing, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4, Canada; runjan.chetty{at}

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In celebration of the Platinum Jubilee, the current Editor-in-Chief, Professor Tahir Pillay, has reflected on the past 70 years, especially the best cited papers that have appeared in the Journal of Clinical Pathology (JCP).1

For the journal to have endured and remained relevant for this length of time, clearly it must have published good work consistently. The second most cited paper in the Journal is a superb review by Bosch and colleagues on human papillomavirus (HPV) and uterine cervical cancer.2

Data measurement on impact and relevance in publishing is now de rigueur and the yardstick by which a piece of work is judged. There are several repositories and search engines such as Google Scholar and the Web of Science that provide data on published works. One such tool that the JCP employs is the Altmetric attention score, which provides an indicator of the amount of attention a published piece of work receives in this multimedia era. The score is derived from an automated algorithm that takes into account several sources (including social media) that are appropriately weighted to mitigate against bias.

In April 2002, the JCP published a review article entitled, ‘The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer’ by Bosch and colleagues.2 This is the second most cited paper in JCP with 1620 citations according to the Web of Science and 3757 citations according to Google Scholar. Altmetric has tracked over 8.5 million research outputs, and this paper has an Altmetric score of 52, is in the 97th centile and in the top 5% of all research tracked by Altmetric. Since the publication appeared in paper form (having been published originally online in January 2002), the downloads of the abstract, full article and pdf are as follows: 51 400, 38 550 and 32 972, respectively. These figures, together with the citations and Altmetric attention score, all attest to the authoritative nature of this publication. These figures are endured over a period of 15 years, and the fact that it continues to be cited in 2017 shows the importance of the article in its field.

The five authors of the paper, Bosch (Spain), Lorincz (USA), Munoz (France), Meijer (The Netherlands) and Shah (USA), represent what true international collaboration of experts can achieve. The paper represents a collaborative effort on HPV epidemiology, pathology, molecular aspects and immunology. Pulling the multiple threads together resulted in a comprehensive treatise on HPV and its causal relationship with uterine cervical cancer. The review breaks the usual journal limitations for usual reviews: it is 22 pages long and cites 276 references representing a real magnum opus that traces the history of cervical cancer occurring as a result of a sexually transmitted process and the detection of HPV in the cancer samples. The paper summarises the epidemiological evidence of HPV being the cause of cervical cancer before delving into the biological mechanisms implicated in HPV carcinogenesis.

The paper concludes with two very poignant epithets. The review is dedicated to Dr Jan Walboomers, an eminent HPV researcher who contributed fundamentally to the HPV. At the end, there is a quotation that bears repeating: “all scientific work is incomplete—whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time”.


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  • Handling editor Tahir S Pillay

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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