«Prev2015 in review: What we learned, and what’s in store going forward NextHow can libraries attract and retain top talent?»

  Download White Paper now  

Every year upwards of 9 million scientists and scholars publish their findings in academic journals producing papers that, according to some estimates, likely number in excess of 2 million.

With such prodigious output, the task of qualifying the value of each piece of work is challenging. Nevertheless, the research community, publishers, academic administrators and others seek such designation, beyond who has the highest salaries, biggest laboratories or office shelves with the most awards.

One strategy is to concentrate on the research papers themselves—specifically, the extent to which they have assisted, inspired or challenged other researchers. Papers meeting this standard earn a clear distinction when other authors explicitly footnote, or cite, the reports in their subsequent work. A paper that other authors have frequently cited has quantifiably proved itself to be significant.

Extending this logic provides a clear avenue: to seek out authors who have consistently produced papers which have, in turn, won peer approval in the form of high citation counts.

This approach is embodied in the latest Thomson Reuters report on “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds,” covering the main areas of science and the social sciences, presenting the researchers who, in their respective fields, have contributed markedly high numbers of top-cited papers over a recent ten-year period. The report also includes a section on the world’s “hottest” scientists, whose work within the last two years has been cited at a notably rapid clip.

The Top 1%

Compiled annually, the “Most Influential Scientific Minds” report reflects data from the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers website, with publication and citation figures drawn from Essential Science Indicators (ESI), a component of the Web of Science. Among its assorted features and metrics, ESI tracks papers published in the last decade that rank in the top 1% most cited for their respective years of publication in each of 22 main subject fields. These reports, officially designated as “Highly Cited Papers,” numbered more than 120,000 in a recent analysis covering the years 2003 to 2013.

Thomson Reuters analysts identified author names listed on multiple reports within each ESI field. (Each paper is assigned to only one field, depending on the journal in which it appeared. Any paper published in a multidisciplinary journal, such as Science or Nature, is assigned based on algorithmic analysis of the literature predominantly cited by the paper, as well as of the journals which subsequently cited the report. For example, a Science paper that mostly cites immunology reports, and is in turn cited by papers published in immunology journals, would be assigned to the field of Immunology.)

Once the papers have been accurately attributed, the authors are listed within each ESI field according to the number of Highly Cited Papers to their credit. In all, the current listing of Highly Cited Researchers features more than 3,100 names.

Size Matters

The specialty areas covered by ESI differ drastically in size. That is, some fields are characterized by greater numbers of journals, in which larger populations of authors publish more papers, and therefore greater quantities of Highly Cited Papers. For example, the field of Clinical Medicine is the largest in ESI, accounting for about 12% of the database’s total content. Economics & Business, meanwhile, contributes just over 2%.

The relative size of each ESI field, in terms of the overall number of Highly Cited Papers, was factored into the thresholds that determined how many authors to feature in each field. Varying thresholds are also included in determining how many Highly Cited Papers were required to qualify a given author.

Figure 1 reflects the variance in the size and the corresponding yield of Highly Cited Researchers for the top 10 of the 21 ESI fields, showing the number of authors within each area. Clinical Medicine, as noted earlier, is unmistakably predominant.

Figure 1:Top 10 Most-Represented Fields, Based on Number of Highly Cited Researchers
(SOURCE: Thomson Reuters Web of Science/Essential Science Indicators)

National Representation

Of the 3,126 Highly Cited Researchers in the 2015 listings, 1,563 represent US-based institutions—exactly 50%. The United Kingdom followed at some distance, with Germany and China also registering strongly. Figure 2 represents a breakdown by nation.

Figure 2:Top 10 Most-Represented Countries, Based on Number of Highly Cited Researchers
(SOURCE: Thomson Reuters Web of Science/Essential Science Indicators)

Institutions

Some institutions proved to be notably prolific in hosting Highly Cited Researchers, as Table 1 indicates.

Again, size is a factor, as several of the entities represent large university systems or national research agencies with many component facilities. The University of California, which boasts the greatest number of names, with 165, is an example, as are the US National Institutes of Health and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Still, some smaller players emerged, such as Washington University in St. Louis, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks to their researchers contributing to several highly cited genomics papers, both organizations can claim upwards of two-dozen Highly Cited Researchers.

Rank

Primary Listed Affiliation

Number

1

University of California System, USA

165

2

Harvard University, USA

98

3

National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA

85

4

Stanford University, USA

60

5

University of London, UK

49

6

Max Planck Society, Germany

44

7

University of Texas System, USA

40

7

Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

40

9

Duke University, USA

33

10

University of Oxford, UK

28

10

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

28

10

European Molecular Biology Lab, UK, Germany

28

10

Northwestern University, USA

28

14

Washington University in St. Louis, USA

27

15

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA

26

16

University of Michigan, USA

25

16

Princeton University, USA

25

18

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA

24

18

University of Cambridge, UK

24

20

Erasmus University, Netherlands

22

20

University of Washington, USA

22

20

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK

22

*Note: Institutional figures were correct as of late 2015. Subsequent updates by researchers may result in minor changes.

Table 1: Institutions with the Most Highly Cited Researchers
(SOURCE: Thomson Reuters Web of Science/Essential Science Indicators)

Citation-Based Measurement

Tabulating the most highly cited papers is just one of several possible citation-based measurements for assessing a researcher’s impact. Another approach is to gauge “relative impact” by comparing a citations-per-paper tally against a field-wide baseline. No single approach is ideally comprehensive in scope or outcome, and any scheme will likely exclude accomplished, deserving researchers who do not happen to meet the criteria at hand.

The measure used for identifying Highly Cited Researchers, however, has the advantage of reflecting recent contributions that may come from early- or mid-career researchers, rather than relying on an overall citation count, a measure that tends to favor authors whose work has had many years in which to accumulate citations.

Today’s “Hot” Researchers

Along with featuring Highly Cited Authors and their decade-long run of markedly significant papers, the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” report also identifies a much smaller selection of authors whose recent work has resulted in a high number of what are called Hot Papers. These reports, two years old and younger, attract citations almost immediately after publication, collecting cites at a rate far above papers of comparable type and age in the same journals.

There are 19 such authors whose recent research has proved to be of immediate interest and utility, aka Hot Papers. The scientists—representing such fields as genomics, public health and renewable-energy research—are featured in Table 2.

 

 

Name

 

Institution

 

Field

Number of Hot Papers

Stacey B. Gabriel

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics   

25

 

Henry J. Snaith

Oxford University

Physics/Materials

24

 

 

 

 

Christopher J. Murray

University of Washington

Global Health

22

 

Eric S. Lander

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics

21

 

Gad Getz

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics

20

 

Matthew Meyerson

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics

19

 

Michael Grätzel

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Materials

19

 

David (Xiong Wen) Lou

Nanyang Technological University

Chemistry/Materials

19

 

 

 

 

Alan D. Lopez

University of Melbourne

Health Metrics

16

 

Theo Vos

University of Washington

Global Health

16

 

 

Mohammed K. Nazeeruddin

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Materials

16

 

Hua Zhang

Nanyang Technological University

Materials

16

 

Mohsen Naghavi

University of Washington

Global Health

15

 

Yang Yang

Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Materials

15

 

Yi Cui

Stanford University

Materials

15

Michael S. Lawrence

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics

14

 

Scott L. Carter

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Genomics

14

 

Kristian Cibulskis

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Genomics

14

 

Feng Zhang

MIT

Biomedical Engineering

14

Table 2: Researchers with the Most Recent Hot Papers – the Hottest of the Hot
((SOURCE: Thomson Reuters Web of Science/Essential Science Indicators)

Undeniably, Highly Cited Researchers and the latest selection of “hot” authors have demonstrated that their work is central to current, ongoing research across the range of scholarly and scientific advancement and that they are the ones to watch.

Access the full report to see all 3,126 highly cited researchers and their areas of expertise.