Top fields at California Institute of Technology

Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, January 2000-February 2010

July 15, 2010

 Field Papers CitesCites/paperCites/paper world average% +/–
1Environment/ecology1334,85836.5310.24+257
2Computer science4855,59311.533.32+247
3Chemistry2,01069,06834.3610.26+235
4Physics3,945101,65325.778.45+205
5Materials science4708,55618.206.29+189
6Engineering1,68317,21510.234.+140
7Space sciences5,174158,58330.6513.36+129
8Geosciences1,88336,89919.608.83+122
9Neuroscience64625,41939.3518.00+119
10Biochemistry88430,51834.5216.09+115
11Molecular biology77839,87551.2524.08+113
12Mathematics6634,4086.653.15+111
13Medicine3337,39522.2112.02+85
14Microbiology1393,45324.8414.11+76
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena was established in 1891 by Amos G. Throop as Throop University. It acquired its present name in 1921. Despite its relatively small size, Caltech is recognised worldwide for its leading role in science and engineering research. Its outsized influence is evident in the 32 Nobel prizes that have been awarded to its faculty and alumni – a disproportionately large number for an institution of Caltech’s size.

The table above lists fields in which Caltech contributed 100 or more research articles or reviews in the jour­nals indexed by Thomson Reuters for its Essential Science Indicators database during the period January 2000 through February 2010. The fields are ranked by relative citation impact, here citations per paper for Caltech in a field compared with citations per paper for the world in the same field. Given the institution’s reputation, it is not surprising to find that in all fields, Caltech’s performance was above the world average – far above, in fact.

With the exception of environment/ecology, ranked first but exhibiting a relatively small paper count, Caltech’s strongest fields represent the physical sciences. The biological sciences appear in the lower half of the table, with the exception of mathematics. However, even Caltech’s lowest ranking field – microbiology – earned it a place in the top 60 institutions worldwide when assessed by relative impact in this area.

Caltech is a classic example of how measures of output and total citations, which are strongly related to output, can be inadequate in revealing excellence in research performance. For small but elite institutions, one must examine the weighted citation impact measure.

For more information on the Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators database, see: http://science.thomsonreuters.com/products/esi

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