Chemistry, At the Highest Level
Featured Analyses, September/October 2011
by Christopher King
In advance of last January, two distinguished organizations—UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and IUPAC (the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry)—jointly proclaimed 2011 the International Year of Chemistry.
Before the rolling year slips away entirely, Science Watch© hereby contributes to the observance with a look at high-impact institutions in the broad field of chemistry over the last decade, along with an examination of some international trends over a slightly longer period.
The table (see Tab below) lists institutions according to two separate measures: in the left-hand column, by total citations, and, at right, by impact (citations per paper). The figures reflect papers published and cited between January of 2001 and April of 2011 in more than 500 Thomson Reuters-indexed journals representing the range of subfields in chemistry. The listings derive from the Essential Science IndicatorsSM, a database within the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge® platform.
Admittedly, this is a broad-brush treatment at a highly aggregated level. A smaller or more narrowly focused selection of journals, of course, would produce different listings. The aim here, however, is to identify some prominent players in the field as a whole.
The total-citations measure, as has been frequently noted in these pages, tends to favor large institutions that produce a high volume of research reports, and the accompanying table provides several examples, particularly in cases of organizations that contain many component institutions. Atop the citations listing, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, comprising nearly 100 separate research institutes, represents one such instance, as do the placements for large research agencies in Germany, Russia, France, Spain, and Japan.
Nevertheless, smaller institutions also emerge in the total-citations column—notably, the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Despite the institute’s overall slant towards biomedicine, and a comparatively modest output of roughly 2,100 Thomson Reuters-indexed chemistry reports in the last decade, Scripps fielded several high-impact chem papers. The highest of these is a report on "click chemistry" from Scripps researcher and 2001 Nobel chemistry laureate K. Barry Sharpless and colleagues (H.S. Kolb, et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 40: 2004, 2001), now cited nearly 2,500 times. Thus, Scripps, with an average of nearly 42 cites per paper, tops the impact listing.
Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, MIT, and Georgia Tech also distinguish themselves with appearances on both lists.
Meanwhile, the graphs follow some larger trends in international publication over the last couple of decades. The topmost graph tracks shares of world chemistry papers between 1991 and 2010 from three main geographical entities: the United States, the principal 15 nations of the European Union, and Asia Pacific, including Japan and China. (View the Global Reseach Reports* from Thomson Reuters for more information).
As the graph shows, the European Union and the United States have both steadily surrendered world share in the course of the 20-year period, while the Asia Pacific group has climbed ever higher in its portion of world chemistry—from less than 20% in 1991 to nearly 45% in 2010. Powering this increase was China, whose annual output of Thomson-indexed chemistry papers increased from roughly 2,100 in 1991 to nearly 30,000 in 2010.
If the world-share graph seems to paint a comparatively dire picture for the United States and the European Union, the graph showing "relative impact" demonstrates that, in terms of the citation influence of published research, the two regions are still predominant. The citation impact for chemistry papers featuring U.S.-based authors, as tracked in overlapping five-year periods since 1987, comfortably surpasses the world average for the field (represented on the y-axis as 1.00), although the figures are trending downward in recent years: from 61% above the world chemistry average during the 2004-to-2008 period, to 58% above for papers published and cited between 2006 and 2010.
By contrast, the relative-impact mark for the European Union, although closer to the world average than the U.S. score, is on an upward trajectory. And while the Asia Pacific group, as a whole, has yet to attain the world average, it too is trending upward.
The final graph offers a more detailed look at relative impact, with a selection of individual nations. Mirroring the previous graph, the European representatives—Germany and the United Kingdom—are on the rise. Japan holds steady, having begun to surpass the world mark around the late 1990s. India tracks steadily upward. But it’s China that, despite sharing India’s start well below the world mark, appears to be on a particular upswing in recent years, showing itself yet again to be the nation to watch.
Institutions in Chemistry
(Listed by citations and citation impact)
(>= 1,000 papers)
|Chinese Academy of Sciences||357,682||Scripps Research Institute||41.70|
|Max Planck Society||213,801||Harvard University||36.76|
|University California, Berkeley||158,308||Rice University||34.44|
|University of Tokyo||128,672||Northwestern University||32.47|
|MIT||118,935||Arizona State University||31.81|
|Russian Academy of Sciences||109,256||University California, Berkeley||30.84|
|Harvard University||106,946||Stanford University||29.35|
|Northwestern University||100,676||Lawrence Berkeley National Lab||29.26|
|University of Illinois||94,037||Yale University||29.05|
|Japan Science & Technology Agency||91,870||University California, Los Angeles||27.08|
|Osaka University||90,188||Georgia Tech||26.94|
|AIST (Japan)||90,063||University of Washington||26.78|
|CSIC (Spain)||87,538||University California, Santa Barbara||26.65|
|Scripps Research Institute||87,441||University of Michigan||26.47|
|Stanford University||85,425||Carnegie Mellon University||26.27|
|ETH Zurich||84,410||Columbia University||25.75|
|University of Cambridge||83,672||University of Pennsylvania||23.94|
|Tohoku University||77,036||University of Utrecht||23.93|
|University of Michigan||75,158||University of Groningen||23.66|
|University of Minnesota||74,717||University of Chicago||23.57|
|University of Oxford||72,309||Queen’s University Belfast||23.45|
|Georgia Tech||72,148||Princeton University||22.92|
|Tokyo Institute of Technology||72,097||University Texas, Austin||22.86|
Global Research Reports
Thomson Reuters launched the Global Research Report series to inform policymakers about the changing landscape of the global research base. Selected countries are profiled across scholarship production, emerging fields, global collaboration, and past/future trajectories. The Thomson Reuters data analysis allows a profiled nation to assess its position while offering other international players opportunity to evaluate and adapt their role to ongoing shifts in global research.
SCI-BYTES SPECIAL FEATURES
Keywords: Chemistry, research in chemistry, high-impact chemistry, International Year of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute, world chemistry.
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