Citation Laureates 2022: Nobel class researchers who are changing the world

Clarivate™ draws on Web of Science™ publication and citation data to produce an annual list of Citation Laureates™ – researchers of Nobel class whose high-impact contributions have transformed their fields and changed our world for the better.

Every October, the world watches as the Nobel Assembly votes to confer their prestigious prizes. While people around the globe can’t help but speculate about who will be chosen, Clarivate is the only organization to use quantitative data in addition to qualitative assessment to provide valuable insights about who might be awarded a Nobel Prize.

Those named Citation Laureates are individuals whose research publications are highly cited and whose contributions to their fields have been extremely influential, even transformative.

As of September 2022, 64 of the Citation Laureates named by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ at Clarivate went on to receive a Nobel Prize, more than half within three years of being named on our lists. Their achievements demonstrate that high citation frequency is often an early indicator of potential recognition, and when combined with analysis of the research community’s peer judgement, we catch a glimpse of who may be in line for a Nobel Prize.

Identifying the giants of research

Each year since 2002, ISI analysts have drawn on Web of Science publication and citation data to identify influential researchers in the research areas recognized by Nobel Prizes: Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics.

Because Nobel laureates typically have published one or more papers cited 2,000 or more times, the task of identifying scientists of Nobel class among millions of researchers becomes manageable since we can narrow the search to exceptionally highly cited papers and their authors.

Out of some 55 million articles and proceedings indexed in the Web of Science since 1970, only about 7,600 (.01%) have been cited 2,000 or more times. It is from the authors of this group of papers that Citation Laureates are identified and selected.

The ongoing impact of our 2022 Citation Laureates

The contributions of this year’s Citation Laureates include transformative research in breast and ovarian cancer, flexible ‘electronic skin’, the economics of happiness and wellbeing, and more. Their research has not only been foundational in their fields, but also continues to evolve and expand in ways that may touch our everyday lives.

Stuart H. Orkin, David G. Nathan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is recognized as a Citation Laureate in Physiology or Medicine this year for his foundational research on the genetic basis of blood diseases and for advancing gene therapy for sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia. When asked what initially sparked his interest in his field, he said:

“I like puzzles, I like to think about how to solve a problem. I wanted to understand how gene expression is programmed during blood cell development. There are disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia that affect hemoglobin and red cell function. I wanted to solve the outstanding questions there, with the ultimate goal of having that information and knowledge translated to the benefit of patients who have those disorders. Part of it is curiosity, and the other part is to try to merge that curiosity with the hope of doing good for some individuals with disease. It’s marvelous that we have the tools to be able to think about doing that. It’s sometimes not easy to do and doesn’t happen every day, but that’s the goal.”

Andrew J. Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick, was identified as a Citation Laureate in Economics this year alongside Richard A. Easterlin and Richard Layard for their pioneering contributions to the economics of happiness and subjective wellbeing. Oswald said:

“When a few of us began working on the study of human happiness, all our economist colleagues thought that was completely crazy. Of course, that wasn’t a sensible reaction because what could be more important than happiness? It just wasn’t something that many researchers thought you could study. In 1993, Andrew Clark and I ran a conference at the London School of Economics called ‘The Economics of Happiness’ and put posters all over LSE, and nobody came – just nobody. It didn’t compute. But now, it does compute, and it’s popular. If you work on things that matter, then eventually the world will catch up.”

Richard Layard, Co-Director of the Community Wellbeing Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, said:

“Researchers should be thinking in terms of how they can make the world a better place. When they’ve got an insight, they need to be revealing it in a proactive way to people who can implement it – policymakers, leading business figures, leading figures in the educational world, wherever it is. I’d strongly urge young researchers to get to know policymakers. That will help them to design good questions to study and will also make sure that the answers they get actually make a difference in the world.”

In the coming years, more Citation Laureates will be named and, we are confident, more will go on to receive Nobel honors. And while it is true that not all our Citation Laureates can possibly become Nobel Laureates too, their research achievements deserve to be highlighted and celebrated.

Learn more about this year’s list and view our Hall of Citation Laureates here.