Top universities and researchers for advances in surgery

Elsevier metrics reveal the institutions and individuals who are driving forward research in the field

February 26, 2018
Doctors in surgery

By far the greatest volume of publications indexed in worldwide bibliometric databases is in medical research.

According to data from Elsevier, about 11.4 million pieces of research in medicine were indexed in its Scopus database from 2014 to 2017, representing 16.3 per cent of all publications.

Within this wider subject area, most research is published in a Scopus category called “general medicine”, but the field with the second-biggest research volume is in surgery.

Below are the institutions and scholars that have been publishing the most highly cited work in surgery research between 2014 to 2017 compared with the world average. 

Five universities publish more than twice as much research in the top 10 per cent of cited articles than the world average, led by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Oxford.

Four other US universities also figure in the top 10, while the only other country with more than one representative is the Netherlands.

In terms of individual authors, American heart surgeon James K. Kirklin, endowed chair of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has published the most highly cited research. He was almost 16 times more likely to have published an article in the world’s top 1 per cent of cited research than average from 2014 to 2017.  

Professor Kirklin, who is the son of another heart surgery pioneer, the late John W. Kirklin, has helped to make scientific advances in the fields of transplants and mechanical assistance for blood circulation after heart failure. 

His work at Alabama has also helped to set up a major database of heart transplant research spanning institutions that has led to several ground-breaking pieces of collaborative research on the topic.

Top 10 scholars in surgery research, 2014 to 2017, by expected output in top 1 per cent of world's most cited publications (world average =1) 

Author Affiliation Scholarly output, 2014 to 2017 Expected output index (EOI)
Kirklin, James K. University of Alabama at Birmingham 51 15.7
Clavien, Pierre Alain University of Zurich 75 10.7
Bassi, Claudio University of Verona 57 10.5
Holcomb, John B.B. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston 81 9.9
Shahian, David M. Harvard University 51 9.8
Badhwar, Vinay University of Pittsburgh 53 9.4
Hackert, Thilo University of Heidelberg 58 8.6
Lillemoe, Keith D. Harvard University 82 8.5
Serra, Raffaele University Magna Graecia 65 7.7
Yeo, Charles Johns Hopkins University 52 7.7
Source: Elsevier/SciVal.  

Other surgeons in the top 10 include liver specialist Pierre-Alain Clavien, professor in the department of surgery and transplantation at the University of Zurich, who according to a 2014 citation from the American College of Surgeons has made “great contributions to our understanding of basic mechanisms in liver disease”.

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