David Pendlebury, Head of Research Analysis, Institute for Scientific Information Shares Insights from its Annual Highly Cited Researchers List

Share this

David Pendlebury, Head of Research Analysis, Institute for Scientific Information Shares Insights from its Annual Highly Cited Researchers List


  • David first talked about Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers 2022 list. He said that the list picks out 6,938 individuals at universities, research institutes, and commercial organizations across 69 countries/regions
  • He also elucidated the methodology used by Clarivate to create the list and how the pharma companies can benefit from this list to strengthen their strategies
  • The interview showcases how Clarivate is working to provide actionable information and insights that bring new ideas and life-changing inventions

Smriti: Firstly, we would like you to talk about what is the Highly Cited Researchers 2022 list. 

David Pendlebury: The Highly Cited Researchers™ list from Clarivate™ represents scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. The annual list is based on data from the Web of Science™ citation index, together with analysis performed by bibliometric experts and data scientists at the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ at Clarivate. 

In 2022, ISI analysts awarded Highly Cited Researcher designations to 6,938 researchers from across the globe who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields over the last decade. Of all the world’s researchers, they are one in 1,000 in their field. The list is truly global, spanning 69 countries or regions and spread across a diverse range of research fields in the sciences and social sciences. 

Smriti: Can we first talk about the methodology which was used to create this list? 

David Pendlebury: We use both quantitative and qualitative analysis when creating our annual list of Highly Cited Researchers. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index over the last decade, and the list identifies the research institutions and countries where they are based.  

Researchers are selected for their exceptional performance in one or more of 21 broad fields (those used in Essential Science Indicators™ (ESI) or across several fields. 

We also use qualitative analysis of the list, to address increasing industry concerns over potential misconduct (such as plagiarism, image manipulation, fake peer review). With the assistance of Retraction Watch and its unparalleled database of retractions, Clarivate analysts searched for evidence of misconduct in all publications of those on the preliminary list of Highly Cited Researchers. Researchers found to have committed scientific misconduct in formal proceedings conducted by a researcher’s institution, a government agency, a funder or a publisher are excluded from the list of Highly Cited Researchers. 

For more information on how we identify researchers, you can read our full Methodology section on our website. 

Smriti: What are the topline outcomes of this analysis? 

David Pendlebury: Highly Cited Researchers 2022 work in 69 countries/regions; 82.9% are from just 10 and 71.4% from the first five, a remarkable concentration of top talent. 

The key findings for 2022 show: 

  • 6,938 researchers from 69 countries and regions have been named this year. Some extraordinary researchers are recognized in multiple research fields, totaling 7,225 awards across all of the individual researchers named this year. 
  • The United States is the institutional home for 2,764 of the Highly Cited Researchers in 2022, which amounts to 38.3% of the total list, down from 43.3% in 2018. While the slow downward loss of share continues for U.S.-based researchers, the U.S. clearly still leads the world in research influence. 
  • Mainland China is second this year, with 1,169 Highly Cited Researchers – continuing to close the gap with the U.S. In five years, Mainland China has more than doubled its share of the Highly Cited Researchers population – from 7.9% in 2018 to 16.2% this year. 
  • The United Kingdom comes in third with 579 researchers or 8.0%. This is a remarkably high number of researchers at the very top of their fields in terms of citation impact, given that the United Kingdom has a population 1/5 the size of the United States and 1/20 the size of Mainland China. 
  • Germany has pulled ahead of Australia this year – placing Germany at fourth with 369 researchers, and Australia at fifth with 337 researchers. Behind them are Canada (226), the Netherlands (210), France (134), Switzerland (112) and Singapore (106) which is new to the top 10 this year. 
  • Harvard University, home to 233 researchers on the list, is once again the institution with the highest concentration of Highly Cited Researchers in the world. Governmental and publicly funded research organizations also feature strongly in the institutional top 10: the Chinese Academy of Sciences comes in second overall (228), narrowing the gap with Harvard, followed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (113) and Germany's Max Planck Society (67). The University of Pennsylvania has joined the top 10 this year, jumping 7 slots from number 17 in 2021.

You can review a fuller analysis here.  

Smriti: Can we talk about the details of the outcome drawn from this list? 

David Pendlebury: As mentioned, Mainland China has increased its share of Highly Cited Researchers significantly in recent years. Of course, world share is a zero-sum game so as Mainland China increases its number of Highly Cited Researchers, other countries/regions decline. This year, we observe a significant 1.4% loss in Highly Cited Researchers for the United States, and 5.0% since 2018. This contrasts with an increase of 8.3% for Mainland China since 2018. The United Kingdom exhibits a rise of 0.5% since last year and a decline of 1.0% since 2018. Germany has lost 0.8% share since 2018. Meanwhile, Australia is gaining share, moving from 4.0% in 2018 to a 4.7% share this year. The newcomer to the top 10 is Singapore, which increased its number of researchers on our list to 106, up from 90 last year, attaining a 1.5% world share. The headline story then, as it has been lately, is one of sizeable gains for Mainland China and continuing incremental loss of share for the United States, which reflects a transformational rebalancing of scientific and scholarly contributions at the top level through the globalization of the research enterprise.

Smriti: We have countries and we have institutes/organizations. Can you also tell us which individuals/ researchers have been the highest performing 

David Pendlebury: We never rank people in any order, nor do we claim these are the 'best' researchers in each region - only that they wield a vastly disproportionate influence in their field(s) of research.    

In 2022, some extraordinary researchers are recognized in multiple ESI research fields, with 219 named in two fields, 28 named in three fields and 4 named in four fields. These four were:  

  • Edward H Sargeant, University of Toronto, Canada; (CHE, ENG, MTS & PHY) 
  • Yi Cui, Stanford University, U.S. (CHE, ENE, ENG & MTS) 
  • Michael Gratzeltze, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland (CHE, ENG, ENE & MTS) 
  • Guido Kroemer, Université de Paris Cité, Hôpital Européen George Pompidou - AP-HP, Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus (CHE, ENG, MTS & PHY) 

Smriti: What are the benefits or applications of this list for the pharma companies/ executives that help shape the strategy?  

David Pendlebury: There are several. The list of Highly Cited Researchers, especially in fields relevant to the pharmaceutical industry, can be an important source of intelligence on top talent that may be targets for recruitment or for research collaboration. The named individuals are not always senior investigators, since we analyze all authors on highly cited papers and limit the analysis of these to the last decade. That allows for the selection of newly minted and midcareer researchers who have been repeatedly involved in influential publications. Finding a group of Highly Cited Researchers, working together on the same problem at the same or a few institutions, may also indicate promising institutional affiliations for a pharmaceutical firm, if the business is focused on the same research. Also, an analysis of the named individuals in a field, such as Pharmacology or Toxicology, can reveal topics or themes of contemporary importance. So tracking the research focus of Highly Cited Researchers is a window into trends and emerging topics, which we term the research front.  

Smriti: Can we talk about what InCites Benchmarking & Analytics™, and Essential Science Indicators, and how were they helpful in creating this list? 

David Pendlebury: To create the annual Highly Cited Researchers list, bibliometric experts at the ISI use data from InCites Benchmarking & Analytics, Essential Science Indicators and a unique compilation of science performance metrics and trend data based on scholarly paper publication counts and citation data from the Web of Science. 

InCites Benchmarking & Analytics is a customized, web-based research evaluation tool that helps organizations to develop their research strategy. It allows them to analyze institutional productivity, monitor collaboration activity, identify influential researchers, showcase strengths, and discover areas of opportunity. The Web of Science Core Collection is the data source for InCites Benchmarking & Analytics. The Essential Science Indicators database reveals emerging science trends as well as influential individuals, institutions, papers, journals and countries in a field of research. With science trend statistics drawn from more than 12 million articles from over 12,000 global journals, Essential Science Indicators delivers the in-depth coverage needed to effectively analyze and benchmark research performance, identify significant trends, rank top performers, and evaluate potential employees and collaborators. Built on the foundation of Web of Science, Essential Science Indicators uses selective, structured, and complete data. 

Image Source: Canva

About the Author:

David Pendlebury is the Head of Research Analysis, Institute for Scientific Information. Since 1983, David has used Web of Science™ data to study the structure and dynamics of research. He explores the citation database to analyze trends in science, important topics, and researchers at the frontier of key and emerging research fields. He worked for many years with ISI founder Eugene Garfield. With Henry Small, David developed the Web of Science Essential Science Indicators. Every year, David helps Clarivate to identify the list of world-class researchers named in our Researcher Recognition program, including Citation Laureates and Highly Cited Researchers.

Related Post: Dr. Samiah Al-Zaidy, VP of Clinical Development at Passage Bio Shares Insights on Additional Interim Data from the Imagine-1 Study for GM1 Gangliosidosis


Smriti is a Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She is curious and very passionate about recent updates and developments in the life sciences industry. She covers Biopharma, MedTech, and Digital health segments along with different reports at PharmaShots. She can be contacted at smriti@pharmashots.com.

Share this article on WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Twitter

Join the PharmaShots family of 12000+ subscribers

I accept the Terms and Conditions