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China increases share of most cited researchers


More of the world’s most referenced researchers are now based in mainland China

More of the world’s Highly Cited Researchers are now based in mainland China, with the country having more than doubled its share in the past five years, according to analytics company Clarivate*.

While US institutions remain top of the pile in terms of the proportion of these top researchers, China has continued to close the gap, according to an annual listing of the world’s most cited researchers, published on 15 November.

This year, 37.5 per cent of the 6,849 Highly Cited Researchers listed were at US institutions, down from 43.3 per cent in 2018. The number associated with institutions in mainland China was 17.9 per cent, up from 7.9 per cent five years ago.

China’s rise mirrors its growth in other metrics of research power, including total papers produced and overall R&D spending.

Top ranking

In total, the 2023 list identifies 6,849 Highly Cited Researchers, picked using data on 188,500 papers published between 2012 to 2022.

The 2023 ranking places the UK third, with 8.1 per cent of the most cited researchers, followed by Germany (4.7 per cent), Australia (4.5 per cent), Canada (3.1 per cent) and the Netherlands (2.7 per cent).

David Pendlebury, head of research analysis at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate, acknowledged concerns around gaming of citations, saying, “We have evolved our evaluation and selection policies…to address the challenges of an increasingly complex and polluted scholarly record.”

Clarivate said it had attempted to weed out “anomalies” such as excessive self-citation and game-playing in group citation.

* Research Professional News is an editorially independent part of Clarivate.