Hot research fronts in 2008

Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators database

January 8, 2009

 Research topicCore papersCitationsCitations per paperMean year
1Multiple M2 branes and Bagger-Lambert theory 17 189 11.12 2008.0
2Iron-based superconductors 14 298 21.29 2007.7
3Unparticle physics 40 817 20.43 2007.7
4Graphene 16 234 14.62 2007.5
5Human-induced pluripotent stem cells 1,842 68.22 2007.3
6Inflammatory bowel disease gene and Crohn’s disease susceptibility34 1,629 47.91 2007.2
7Three-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations 4 1,1 317.75 2007.0
8Treatment-resistant depression and deep-brain stimulation 4 1 67.75 2007.0
9Dark energy 23 5,551 241.35 2005.7
10Autophagy32 5,505 172.03 2005.1
Thomson Reuters has developed co-citation methodologies over the years and employs them in its Essential Science Indicators database to construct so-called research fronts. A research front consists of a group of highly cited papers that are co-cited, meaning that the core papers are cited in pairs. By collecting the core papers cited pairwise (A and B, B and C, C and D, D and A, C and B, B and D, A and C, and so on depending on the size of the core literature), a cluster of highly related papers can be identified. These typically represent subspecialties. By examining the average age (mean year) of the co-cited core papers, hot research fronts emerge. A hot research front, in which the core, or foundation, papers are of recent vintage, suggests new, rapidly developing areas. The table above lists a selection of hot research fronts, ranked by the mean year of the core papers. These were chosen for their age, size and apparent weight within their representative subject areas. Science magazine recently named the area ranked fifth, which it termed “reprogramming cells”, its Breakthrough Area of the Year for 2008 in its 19 December 2008 issue. It also listed the field ranked second as a runner-up.

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