California's most-cited institutions: stars and superstars

November 11, 2010

It is often observed that if California were not an American state but a country, it would rank among the world’s top 10 nations in terms of economic activity. So it is not surprising that California ranks first among all 50 states in terms of R&D funding: its 22% share is more than three times that of the next ranked state, Massachusetts, which holds a 7% share. California, thus, plays a leading role in research, not only domestically but also globally. The table above ranks the top 20 research institutions in California by total citations, a measure of gross influence that suggests visibility. The world ranking for each institution is also listed and shows that 10 California institutions appear among the world’s top 100 by citations received, and half of those rank in the top 20.

Citation counts generally relate to the number of papers published, but some institutions that publish disproportionately in fields with high citation averages (such as molecular biology, immunology and neurosciences) benefit more than others in a ranking by total citations or by citations per paper (impact). The Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Genentech, and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute are examples of this phenomenon. These data, then, reveal a concentration of elite research institutions on the West Coast of the US whose influence reaches around the globe. But the last two columns of figures on the right attempt to show that even among the elite, some stand out more than others. The data report each institution’s share of US papers as well as their share of top papers by US authors. Top papers are those that rank in the highest 1% by citations, taking into account both the year of publication and field of each paper. Top papers also include so-called hot papers – those articles two years old or younger that rank in the top one-tenth of 1% by citations received, again adjusted for publication date and field.

Those institutions that produced top papers at a share twice as great as the institution’s overall share are indicated in red. Among such institutions, which may be termed superstars, are three campuses of the University of California (Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz), Stanford, Caltech, the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, as well as the four previously mentioned institutions that focus on the biological sciences. Examples of other superstar institutions not located in the Golden State include Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Tokyo.

For more information on Thomson Reuters’ Essential Science Indicators, see

California's most-cited institutions: stars and superstars
Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, January 2000-April 2010
California rankWorld rankInstitutionPapersCitationsImpact% US papers% US top papers
1 5Stanford University49,7541,245,42825.031.713.92
2 6University of California, Los Angeles56,5001,201,68021.1.943.
3 8University of California, Berkeley47,3621,047,25222.111.633.59
4 11 University of California, S Francisco37,286 1,022,407 .42 1.28 2.44
5 13University of California, San Diego41,725986,77723.651.432.69
6 37University of California, Davis38,878 610,097 15.69 1.33 1.59
7 44 California Institute of Technology 20,533 564,985 .52 0.70 1.89
8 63 University of Southern California26,534 467,051 17.60 0.91 1.17
9 76 Scripps Research Institute 10,551 406,754 38.55 0.36 1.07
10 81 University of California, Irvine21,459393,89218.360.74 1.14
11102University of California, Santa Barbara 16,779343,393 20.47 0.58 1.34
12211 University of California, Santa Cruz8,674209,861 24.19 0.30 0.66
13242 Lawrence Livermore National Lab 10,001180,975 18.10 0.34 0.50
14252 University of California Riverside 11,601174,849 15.07 0.40 0.62
15304 Salk Institute for Biological Studies 2,874147,770 51.42 0.10 0.43
16332 Lawrence Berkeley National Lab 6,147131,013 21.31 0.21 0.50
17397 Genentech, Inc. 2,163104,562 48.34 0.08 0.36
184 Sanford-Burnham Med Research Inst2,37495,032 40.03 0.08 0.18
19461 Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA 5,73184,955 14.82 0.20 0.26
20475 Cedars Sinai Medical Centre 3,47980,854 23.24 0.12 0.22

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