A galaxy not too far, far away?

If you’re a Star Wars fan, then I’m sure you already know what today is… No it’s not May 4th, it’s May the Fourth be with you! This pun first became well known all the way, way back in 1979. On May 4th of that year, Margaret Thatcher won the election for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In celebration of her triumph, her caucus later posted an advertisement in the London Evening News, reading, ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.’ After this news went viral, fans of the Star Wars films influentially began using this phrase each year, before long making May 4th an (un)officially observed holiday: Star Wars Day.

To celebrate Star Wars Day at Clarivate Analytics, we decided to dig into the Web of Science to see what trends and references we could find on the topic of Star Wars and its characters.


The characters of George Lucas’s imaginary world can be found throughout the Web of Science. Looking at the lead characters from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), we see that Darth Vader is the most referenced character in the literature. Could researchers secretly be Sith?


References to Master Yoda in Web of Science, there are.

You don’t need to hop on the Millennium Falcon and travel to Dagobah to find the Jedi Master Yoda. His legacy can be found throughout the Web of Science universe!

A topic search YODA in Web of Science yields 140 records. YODA indeed lives in 81 journal categories.

  • Yoda is a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase
  • YodA is a metal-binding, lipocali- like protein in Escherichia coli, but no one knows its function.
  • YoDA BRCA is a decision aid for women considering genetic testing for breast cancer.
  • YODA (yeast outgrowth data analyzer) is bioinformatics software for analyzing survival in yeast populations
  • YOUTH OFFENDER DIVERSION ALTERNATIVE (YODA) is a community-based project for youth-to-family violence.

There are even more.  To find all of them, go to Web of Science.


Science fiction or science fact?

“Star Wars” is referenced more than 1,000 times in the Web of Science across all types of documents. One of these reports1 has earned the Clarivate Analytics status of Highly Cited Paper, receiving enough citations to place it in the top 1% of the academic field of Physics based on a citation threshold for the field and publication year.

This paper discusses bringing the technology of Star Wars to life. Specifically, the holographic messaging Princess Leia uses to ask “Old Ben” Kenobi for help.

1. Blanche, P. A., Bablumian, A., Voorakaranam, R., Christenson, C., Lin, W., Gu, T., … & Rachwal, B. (2010). Holographic three-dimensional telepresence using large-area photorefractive polymer, Nature468(7320), 80-83.

This paper has a category-normalized citation impact of 16.59 (i.e., 16.59 times the expected number of citations for its category and year)


Using the Force

The Force is strong across the over 100 subject categories that Star Wars and its characters have influenced. While Science, Technology, and Media seem like obvious places to find Star Wars, it has even had an impact on research related to Psychology, Social Science, Healthcare, Economics, and Religion!


If you’re a fan and want to keep the celebration going, remember that May 5th, as well as it being Cinco de Mayo, is “Revenge of the Fifth” – of course, a reference to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. There can never be too many days to celebrate Star Wars!

But for now, May the Fourth be with you.




This post was co-authored by:

Anthony Molisani, PhD, MPH
Presales Scientist, Research Data Science & Evaluation  |  Clarivate Analytics