Archive ScienceWatch



The U.K.'s Citation Elite, 2003-07
by Christopher King

Two years have passed since this publication examined university research in the United Kingdom (Science Watch, 17[3]: 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.

University of Oxford

For this study, Science Watch drew upon Clarivate Analytics' Essential 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 Wellcome Trust Sanger Institutestep 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 authors.

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 Sam Griffiths-Jonesregistered 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 Sam Griffiths-Jones.

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[6]: 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[2]: 1-2, March/April 2007).

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 Survey.End

Table 1

High-Impact United Kingdom Research:
Institutions Ranked by Citations
(among those that published = 30 high-impact papers, 2003-07)




1 University of Oxford 47,392
2 University of Cambridge 44,140
3 Imperial College London 41,042
4 University College London 24,905
5 University of Edinburgh 20,699
6 University of Glasgow 16,051
7 University of Manchester 15,641
8 University of Birmingham 13,738
9 Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute 13,393
10 Medical Research Council 12,728
11 University of Bristol 12,463
12 King's College London 10,532
13 University of Sheffield 9,515
14 EMBL-European Bioinformatics Inst. 9,467
15 University of Southampton 9,065
16 University of Durham 8,256
17 University of Sussex 7,819
18 Cancer Research UK 7,710
19 University of Dundee 7,594
20 University of Nottingham 7,466
21 London Sch. Hygiene & Tropical Med. 7,218
22 University of Leeds 7,051
23 University of Leicester 6,904
24 University of Liverpool 6,211
25 University of York 5,660
SOURCE: Clarivate Analytics Essential Science Indicators.


Table 2

High-Impact United Kingdom Research:
Institutions Ranked by Citation Impact
(among those that published = 30 high-impact papers, 2003-07)




1 Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute 136.7
2 EMBL-European Bioinformatics Inst. 133.3
3 Cancer Research UK 130.7
4 Royal Marsden Hospital 124.3
5 Western General Hospital 112.3
6 University of Sussex 111.7
7 Natl. Institute for Medical Research 97.3
8 University of Glasgow 92.8
9 Institute of Cancer Research 86.0
10 University of Dundee 85.3
11 University of Bath 85.0
12 Medical Research Council 84.9
13 University of Leicester 82.2
14 University of Hull 82.0
15 Guy's & St. Thomas Hospital 80.6
16 University of Edinburgh 79.0
17 Queen's University Belfast 78.9
18 Imperial College London 78.2
19 University of Oxford 78.0
20 University of Birmingham 77.6
21 University of Portsmouth 77.1
22 Royal Brompton & Harefield Hosp. 74.0
23 London Sch. Hygiene & Tropical Med. 72.9
24 Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 72.5
25 University of Cambridge 72.2
SOURCE: Clarivate Analytics Essential Science Indicators.



Table 3
United Kingdom-based Authors of High-Impact Papers, 2003-07
(Ranked by citations to high-impact papers)
Rank Name Affiliation Field Number of high-impact papers Citations
1 Richard Durbin Sanger Institute Genomics 16 4,335
2 Rory Collins University of Oxford Epidemiology 18 4,044
3 Neil R. Poulter Imperial College London Medicine 12 3,868
4 Gordon T. McInnes University of Glasgow Medicine 11 3,800
5 Sam Griffiths-Jones University of Manchester Genomics 13 3,596
6 Richard Peto University of Oxford Epidemiology 11 3,588
7 Robert C. Nichol University of Portsmouth Space Science 17 3,441
8 Jon Loveday University of Sussex Space Science 17 3,236
9 Rolf Apweiler (see also) European Bioinformatics Inst. Bioinformatics 22 3,167
10 John J.V. McMurray University of Glasgow Medicine 14 2,942
11 Jane Rogers Sanger Institute Genomics 9 2,354
12 Rodrigo Lopez European Bioinformatics Inst. Bioinformatics 12 2,248
13 Alex Bateman Sanger Institute Genomics 11 2,215
14 Ewan Birney European Bioinformatics Inst. Bioinformatics 15 2,067
15 Avery Meiksin University of Edinburgh Space Science 12 2,006
16 Carlos S. Frenk University of Durham Space Science 14 1,990
17 Bryan Williams University of Leicester Medicine 5 1,974
18 John A. Peacock University of Edinburgh Space Science 11 1,922
19 Peter S. Sever Imperial College London Medicine 8 1,785
20 Jack Cuzick Queen Mary, Univ. London Epidemiology 10 1,762
21 Abel Ureta-Vidal European Bioinformatics Inst. Bioinformatics 9 1,743
22 Matthew Berriman Sanger Institute Genomics 14 1,738
23 Anthony R. Green University of Cambridge Medicine 10 1,694
24 Douglas G. Altman University of Oxford Biostatistics 11 1,646
25 Julie Ahringer Gurdon Institute, Univ. of Cambridge Biochemistry 5 1,625
SOURCE: Clarivate Analytics Essential Science Indicators


Christopher King is the Editor of the Science Watch® Newsletter.

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.


Analyses : Featured Analyses : The U.K.'s Citation Elite, 2003-07