Top chemists of the past decade

February 10, 2011

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) have proclaimed this to be the International Year of Chemistry. During 2011, celebrations and special events will be held around the globe "to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry".

The table presented here (see related file, right) is intended to celebrate the achievements of 100 chemists who achieved the highest citation impact scores for chemistry papers (articles and reviews) published since January 2000. Citation impact (citations per paper) is a weighted measure of influence that seeks to reveal consistently superior performance. To ensure that a high score could not be achieved by a few highly cited papers, a threshold of 50 papers was used in the analysis.

The average citation impact in chemistry for the period was 11.07, so all the researchers listed above achieved more than five times that mark. Given that about 1 million chemists were recorded in the journals indexed by Thomson Reuters during the past decade, these 100 represent the top 0.01 of 1 per cent. Sixteen of those listed also ranked in the top 100 by citation impact in materials science, among those who published 25 or more papers in that field during the past decade. Their materials science ranks are noted beside their ranks in chemistry.

Nanotechnology in all its aspects is strongly in evidence when one surveys the research interests of the chemists listed. While the rubric covers much and some sceptics call "nano" the latest fad in chemistry, there is no denying the message of the citation indicators. The field has attracted enormous interest in the past 10 years. Of the 100 chemists listed, 60 identify nanotechnology as their main focus or a significant research topic.

The national affiliations of the authors are: 70 for the US, seven for Germany, four for the UK, two each for Canada, France, Denmark, Switzerland and South Korea, and one apiece for Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Japan and Singapore. The institutions appearing three or more times are: Massa­chu­setts Institute of Technology (6), the Scripps Research Institute (5), the University of California, Berkeley (5), Harvard University (4), Rice University (4), Northwestern University (4), the California Institute of Technology (3), the University of California, Riverside (3) and the University of Chicago (3).

To provide a more comprehensive view of high-impact researchers in chemistry, lists of the top 100 researchers in materials science and biochemistry will appear during the year in these pages.

For more information on Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, see


Kimoon Kim, Professor of Chemistry at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea, should have been listed in the table published on 10 February that featured the top 100 chemists of the last decade.

Unfortunately, his specific publication and citation record was not evident, owing to many persons of the same name (KIM K) publishing chemistry papers in the period 2000-2010. The ranking, by citation impact, would have placed Professor Kim 58th among the 100 names listed. The correct publication and citation statistics for Kim are: 128 chemistry papers; 8,375 citations to these papers; and a citations-per-paper score of 65.43.

Thomson Reuters sincerely regrets the omission of Professor Kim from the ranking.

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