Two years have passed since this publication examined university research
in the United Kingdom (Science Watch, 17: 1-2,
May/June 2006). Now, Science Watch turns
its focus back toward the British Isles, with a survey of top-cited U.K.
institutions and researchers, based on their representation in a
selection of "high-impact" research over the last five years.
For this study, Science Watch drew upon
Science IndicatorsSM database and its store of "Highly
Cited Papers"—specifically, those reports published between 2003 and
2007 that rank, in their respective fields of science and the social
sciences, among the top 1% most-cited for their given years of publication.
The next step was to extract all such papers whose author listings
include at least one U.K.-based institutional affiliation; this produced
a file of roughly 6,000 papers. From that selection of elite reports,
Science Watch identified the most-cited institutions and
The top institutions are ranked in the first two tables below, according to
two measures: in the first table, by total citations to each institution's
store of high-impact papers; and, in the second table, by impact, or
citations per paper (with the latter ranking confined to those institutions
that published at least 30 high-impact papers during the five-year period).
Highly cited authors, meanwhile, are listed in the third table below,
ranked by total citations.
Among the most-cited institutions, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge
stand particularly tall, with similar citation totals each topping 44,000,
with Imperial College London close behind. The performance of this trio is
perhaps not surprising, given the size and complexity of the institutions
(including medical schools and other affiliated entities) and their
correspondingly large output of high-impact papers: Oxford and Cambridge
each fielded more than 600 such reports during the five-year period;
Imperial College recorded more than 500.
Meanwhile, as is frequently the case, the top institutions as ranked by
impact generally produced a smaller quantity of reports but, on average,
made each paper tell. Authors from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, for
example, contributed to 98 high-impact reports and registered a cites-per-paper score exceeding 136. Of
particular weight was a 2004 Nucleic Acids Research report on
the Pfam protein families database
(Alex Bateman, et al., 32: D138-41, 2004).
This report, and its 1,000-plus citations (the third-most-cited paper in
this survey) helped boost Sanger's Richard Durbin to the #1 spot among
the U.K.-based authors featured here, also assisting the placements of
coauthors Alex Bateman and
Like the Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute produced a
comparatively small (71) but potent core of papers covering resources and
tools for collecting and analyzing biological data, including genomes and
protein sequences. EBI authors also contributed to highly cited papers
reporting specific genome sequences, including that of the Brown Norway rat
and other organisms.
The survey's most-cited paper, a 2003 multiauthor Journal of
Hypertension report from the European Society of Hypertension-European
Society of Cardiology (G. Mancia, et al., 21: 1011-53) ,
presenting guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension, garnered
more than 1,300 cites, anchoring the placements of contributors Neil R.
Poulter, Gordon T. McInnes, and Bryan Williams. Elsewhere on the list, the
familiar names of Oxford's
Rory Collins and Richard Peto figured in a variety
of studies evaluating treatment for cancer,
diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. And
Jack Cuzick was featured in this publication's
annual listing of "hot" authors in 2007 (Science Watch, 18:
Among the list's space scientists, Robert C. Nichol, Jon Loveday, and Avery
Meiksin made the most of their participation in highly cited papers from
the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, while the high-impact work of Carlos S. Frenk
and John A. Peacock included reports from the 2dF Galaxy Redshift
Christopher King is the Editor of the Science
Keywords: United Kingdom, UK, UK research, UK
institutions, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Wellcome Trust
Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, Richard Durbin, Alex
Bateman, Carlos S. Frenk, Rory Collins, Richard Peto.
*Due to data revisions during the press run for the
May/June 2008 Science Watch® Newsletter issue,
these rankings differ slightly from the print version.