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Sobering Thoughts: College Student Drinking Research, the Top 20 Institutions
A featured institution selection from Essential Science IndicatorsSM

This month, presents a listing of the top 20 institutions which, according to our Special Topic on underage/college drinking, attracted the highest total citations to their papers published on the topic in Thomson Reuters-indexed journals. These institutions are the top 20 ranked by total cites out of a pool of 1,392 institutions publishing on this topic, based on a string of keywords, including "underage," "college," "alcohol," and "drinking." Interestingly enough, all 20 institutions are US-based, despite the fact that research on illicit substance abuse is not limited to the US.

The Harvard School of Public Health's multi-year College Alcohol Study plays a big role in the placement of Harvard University as the #1 institution in terms of total citations. Harvard has 128 papers cited a total of 4,093 times, more than 2,000 cites greater than the next-ranked organization. The College Alcohol Study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was headed up by Henry Wechsler, who recently spoke with us about the Study and his other alcohol-related research.

It should also be noted that although they are listed as separate institutions, the presence of both Massachusetts General Hospital (#8) and Brigham & Women's Hospital (#14) on this list is indicative of the fact that many of the Harvard authors are also affiliated with these hospitals, although not necessarily strictly just the College Alcohol Study.

"Henry Wechsler, who recently spoke with us about the Study and his other alcohol-related research."

Coming in at #2 is Yeshiva University, with 10 papers cited a total of 1,707 times. Yeshiva's highly cited papers look at the genetics related to alcohol abuse as well as substance use in middle-school- and high-school-aged students.

The third-ranked institution is the University of Washington, with 118 papers cited a total of 1,472 times. This institution also has the second-highest number of papers in the Topic. The University of Washington's highly cited papers focus on a variety of topics, such as identifying students at high risk for alcohol misuse, perceptions of the norms for college drinking, interventional approaches, and other factors associated with college drinking, including drug use, gambling, and sexual assault.

The University of Michigan ranks at #4, with 94 papers cited a total of 1,334 times. Highly cited papers for this institution cover such topics as the roles gender, race, sexual identity, and self-esteem play in alcohol use, as well as the role alcohol plays in sexual assaults.

The fifth-most-cited institution is the University of California, Los Angeles, with 26 papers cited a total of 1,130 times. UCLA's top papers cover substance use/abuse habits of college athletes, the role of alcohol outlets in college drinking, and health risks associated with drinking. Some of UCLA's researchers are co-authors of the College Alcohol Study.

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, joins the list at #6, with 28 papers cited 1,029 times. Rutgers researchers focused on adolescent risk-taking behaviors, factors influencing the transition from adolescent to adult drinking, and stereotypes about college drinking.

The #7 slot belongs to Boston University, with 51 papers cited 747 times. The social context of drinking and other unsafe behaviors in college students, methods for reducing driving under the influence, and campus-based alcohol prevention are among the papers published by BU's researchers. Ralph Hingson, currently with the NIAAA, was affiliated with Boston University when several of his highly cited papers were published. Last year, he appeared in both an interview and a podcast on our site.

The University of Missouri ranks at #9, with 60 papers cited 698 times, covering topics including personality and substance-use disorders, the effects of heavy drinking during the college years, and the role of fraternity/sorority membership in drinking behaviors.

The research of Kate Carey and Brian Borsari is garnering citations for their institutions, Syracuse University and Brown University, respectively. Syracuse ranks at #10 with 38 papers cited a total of 693 times, and Brown ranks at #13 with 60 papers cited 527 times. caught up with these researchers earlier this year to discuss their highly cited work.

"Brian Burke, who is now at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, recently spoke with

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enters the rankings at #11, with 42 papers cited a total of 643 times. The CDC's examination of underage alcohol use encompasses not only statistics on alcohol use in high schools and colleges, but also implications for teen pregnancies, fighting, and suicide.

The University of Texas System comes into play at #12, with 46 papers cited a total of 529 times. Papers on who is drinking, the efficacy of feedback intervention methods, and the impact of the media on the behaviors of young people are among the top topics coming from all branches of the UT system.

Indiana University ranks at #15, with 33 papers cited a total of 490 times. Its top papers examine the effects of alcohol deprivation, binge drinking in different ethnic groups, and the relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual victimization of women, among other topics.

The University of Connecticut also has 33 papers, but with 488 cites, making it the #16 institution on our list. Among the university's highly cited papers are such diverse topics as the effects of alcohol advertising and examining the motivations for drinking among college students.

The prevalent research theme of the University of Illinois, ranked at #17 with 41 papers cited 476 times, is the role of alcohol in the sexual assault of women, both on and off campus. Michigan's Wayne State University also focuses a great deal of its research on the relationship between alcohol and sexual assault. Wayne State ranks at #18, with 35 papers cited 468 times.

Johns Hopkins University ranks at #19, with 31 papers cited 458 times. The influences of social norms theories on behaviors like drinking and drug use are an evident theme in the papers for Johns Hopkins.

Rounding out the top 20 is the University of Arizona, with 23 papers cited a total of 451 times. The most-cited paper for the University of Arizona is "The efficacy of motivational interviewing: A meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials" (Burke BL, Arkowitz H, Menchola M, J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 71[5]: 843-61, October 2003), with 151 cites. Brian Burke, who is now at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, recently spoke with about this paper.


Rank       Institution Citations Papers Citations
Per Paper
1 HARVARD UNIV 4093 128 31.98
2 YESHIVA UNIV 1707 10 170.7
3 Univ Washington 1472 118 12.47
4 UNIV MICHIGAN 1334 94 14.19
5 Univ Calif Los Angeles 1130 26 43.46
6 RUTGERS STATE UNIV 1029 28 36.75
7 Boston Univ 747 51 14.65
9 UNIV MISSOURI 698 60 11.63
10 Syracuse Univ 693 38 18.24
11 Ctr Dis Control & Prevent 643 42 15.31
12 Univ Texas 529 46 11.5
13 BROWN UNIV 527 60 8.78
14 Brigham & Womens Hosp 497 17 29.24
15 INDIANA UNIV 490 33 14.85
16 Univ Connecticut 488 33 14.79
17 UNIV ILLINOIS 476 41 11.61
18 WAYNE STATE UNIV 468 35 13.37
19 Johns Hopkins Univ 458 31 14.77
20 Univ Arizona 451 23 19.61

Full citation details of all of these institutions can be seen in Essential Science Indicators.


Keywords: drinking, college students, college student drinkers, binge drinking, underage drinking, screening, intervention, tobacco use, alcohol-related mortality, alcohol-related morbidity, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, MDMA use, motivational intervention, predictors, social influence processes, problematic drinking, heavy drinking, prescription drug abuse, smoking, social norms marketing campaigns, alcohol-related incidents, serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, polydrug use, web-based feedback, stepped care, email-based screening and intervention.

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Institutional Interviews : 2008 : 2008 Nov - Sobering Thoughts: College Student Drinking Research, the Top 20 Institutions