Clarivate identifies global scientific pioneers on annual Highly Cited Researchers list

Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers have demonstrated significant and broad influence reflected in their publication of multiple highly cited papers over the last decade. Of the world’s population of scientists and social scientists, Highly Cited Researchers are 1 in 1,000. See the Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list.


Understanding the research landscape and identifying the scientific elite is our métier. We use citation data to forecast potential Nobel Prize recipients. We create maps of science that reveal emerging and hot topics as well as key players. And, in an annual exercise, we name more than 6,000 researchers whose production of multiple highly cited papers has marked them as truly influential among their peers, the Highly Cited Researchers™.

While these many thousands of researchers have cause to celebrate, we are also thinking of many others who carry out vital, important work every day to innovate and to improve our futures. Particularly this year, the pandemic has prompted the public to hope for a saving solution from scientists, and in recent days, from the tireless work of thousands of researchers, two very promising vaccines have appeared. Our debt to biomedical researchers has rarely been so evident.

Today we applaud our new Highly Cited Researchers – the 1 in 1,000 global scientists and social scientists whose papers have demonstrated significant citation impact during the last decade.

This year Clarivate recognizes 6,167 individual researchers from more than 60 countries and regions. Their highly cited papers rank in the top 1% by citations for a chosen field or fields and year in the Web of Science™. Identifying these key players at the leading edge of their chosen fields provides a distinct advantage for those who fund, monitor, support and advance the conduct of research, often in the face of finite resources and complex, pressing challenges.


“In the race for knowledge, it is human capital that is fundamental and this list identifies and celebrates exceptional individual researchers who are having a great impact on the research community as measured by the rate at which their work is being cited by others.”


The scientific powerhouses

The United States continues to dominate the list as the home to the highest number of Highly Cited Researchers, with 2,650 authors, representing 41.5% of the list. However, its world share continues to decrease (from 44% in 2019). Within the U.S., Harvard University is once again the institution with the highest concentration of these researchers in the world, with 188.

Mainland China continues to produce highly cited, high profile research bolstered by strong international collaboration and an impressive translation of research into valuable intellectual property. As such, its place on the list continues to surge – it is now the home to 770 (12.1% or 1 in 8) researchers on our list – up from 636 or 10.2% in 2019. Its rank has been boosted by the remarkable entry into the top ten of Tsinghua University, Beijing, which moved up 10 places from 19th to 9th on the list, together with the arrival in 2020 of Peking and Zhejiang Universities into the upper echelons of the list.

Europe also has its fair share of good news. The numbers of Highly Cited Researchers based in Germany and the Netherlands have both risen this year. The Max Planck Society in Germany remains at number 5 on the list of institutions while Utrecht University (27 researchers) and Wageningen University & Research (24 researchers) in the Netherlands both moved up to the top tier of universities listed. The Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics flew 20 places up the institutional ranking with the addition of a dozen Highly Cited Researchers this year.

Australian research institutes continue to punch above their weight. In a country of just 25 million, the number of researchers recognized in 2020 is 305. Australian research institutions appear to have recruited a significant number of Highly Cited Researchers in recent years while also increasing its homegrown talent.


Stellar talent

This year’s list includes 26 Nobel laureates, including three announced this year: Emmanuelle Charpentier, Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany (Chemistry); Jennifer A. Doudna, University of California, Berkeley, United States (Chemistry); and, Reinhard Genzel, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and University of California, Berkeley, United States (Physics).

The list also identifies some truly extraordinary Highly Cited Researchers whose names you may not have heard before – nine individuals showed exceptional broad performance, recognized for being highly cited in three or more ESI categories. They are a truly global group, from North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The story this year is about global research success in countries big and small. Researchers from Colombia, Estonia, French Polynesia, Iceland, Luxembourg and Nigeria – amongst many others – stand alongside the scientific superpowers. Their success and our futures are intertwined.

Click here to see the full Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list and read more about the selection methodology and further analysis.