Highly Cited Researchers 2017: China ‘powering ahead’ in key fields

China now third behind US and UK on Clarivate list of most impactful researchers worldwide

November 15, 2017
Chinese crowd
Source: Reuters
Elevated position: China is gaining fast on the US in terms of citation impact

The number of Chinese researchers making a list of the most highly cited authors worldwide has gone up by more than a third in just a year.

According to the latest edition of the Highly Cited Researchers List, produced by Clarivate Analytics, China now ranks behind only the US and UK in terms of the countries with the most entries in the annual publication.

The list features more than 3,000 researchers, in 21 fields, who produced a “notable” number of highly cited papers in Clarivate’s Web of Science database over the period 2005-2015.

Authors are selected on the basis of “consistent production” of highly cited papers – defined as those that rank in the top 1 per cent by citations for field and publication year – to allow early career researchers to be considered as much as established names.

Researchers from the US continue to be the most represented in the list, with almost half of all the entries being affiliated with organisations, including research institutes and universities, in the nation.

In total, the US had more than 1,600 entries, a 13 per cent increase on last year, with the UK second, being responsible for almost 350 entries. However, China is gaining fast: its representation in the list has jumped 34 per cent compared with last year, giving it almost 240 entries.

In the category of engineering, a subject that China has been heavily focusing on for research, the country has the most entries with 51, way ahead of the US on 26. It is also second only to the US for representation in some fields, including computer science and materials science. 

David Pendlebury, a senior citation analyst at Clarivate Analytics, said that China’s rise in publication output was a well-known trend but “what we are now seeing is [its] increasing presence among most cited authors and papers, especially in the physical sciences”.

“China’s output of materials science papers is now more than twice that of the US, and it is capturing a greater and greater share of top cited papers in the field. In some fields China has not only caught up, but it is now powering ahead.”

In terms of institutions in China, the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) is most represented, with 45 entries on the list. The institution also comes fourth in the world behind Harvard University in top spot (109 entries), Stanford University (64 entries) in second and Germany’s Max Planck Society (47) in third.

Meanwhile, Clarivate also released its latest list of researchers who, in recent years, have published multiple papers that have been rapidly accumulating citations, known as “Hot Papers”.

The current list features 21 researchers who, since 2014, have each published at least 14 Hot Papers, according to citations data running up until the end of last year.

Clarivate says that two “dominant” research themes have emerged in recent editions for this list: cancer genomics and the development of solar power using the mineral perovskite.

Sharing top spot for researchers with the most Hot Papers are Michael Grätzel, professor of physical chemistry at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Henry Snaith, professor of physics at the University of Oxford, who both appear as authors on separate batches of 29 papers on perovskite solar cells.

Both academics are also among 147 authors in the Highly Cited Researchers List who appear across more than one field, with Professor Grätzel authoring highly cited papers in four separate fields and Professor Snaith in three.


Scientists with most multiple ‘Hot Papers’

Name Institution Field Number of Hot Papers
Michael Grätzel  École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Materials 29
Henry J. Snaith University of Oxford Physics/Materials 29
Eric S. Lander Broad Institute  Genomics 21
Gad Getz Broad Institute  Genomics 21
Mohammad K. Nazeeruddin École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Materials 20
Stacey B. Gabriel  Broad Institute  Genomics 20
Sam Stranks  University of Cambridge Materials 17
Peng Shi University of Adelaide Systems and Control Theory 17
Ahmedin Jemal American Cancer Society Epidemiology 16
Caroline Robert Institut Gustave-Roussy Dermatology/Oncology 16
Kuo-Chen Chou Gordon Life Science Institute Genetics/Bioinformatics 16
Source: Clarivate Analytics 


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