Find and advance the hottest new research in your field, step-by-step

Keeping up with breakthrough research is no easy feat. Helping to advance that breakthrough research is even harder – especially if you’re a new academic. Luckily, it doesn’t always need to involve years in the lab. The latest Research Fronts™ report gives you quick insight into hot and emerging research heating up across the scientific landscape. We share the papers contributing to this report, as well as advice on why you should get involved and how.

In a hurry? You can skip straight to the papers, here.


Where to find cutting-edge research

The research ecosystem is a sprawling, ever-changing landscape. New discoveries happen every day, many of them in places you would least expect.

Knowing where the action is – and where the action will come from – provides a distinct advantage for researchers. It can help you understand the various moving parts of a scientific issue, enhance serendipitous discovery and uncover new and exciting opportunities for research.

Researchers often tell us how peer review helps with this. They use reviewing to keep abreast of cutting-edge research and, in addition to improving the quality of the paper, they say it helps to spark new ideas and approaches for their own projects.

The problem is not all researchers are asked to peer review and those who are might struggle to fit it into their busy schedules – especially when the article is outside their area of expertise (both key reasons for why many decline review requests).

“Diversity of thought, and with it diversity of authors and reviewers, is the key to a flourishing field of research.”

Since a diverse array of research might not always land in your inbox and time is a precious commodity, we wanted to share an exciting report that gives you quick insight into new research heating up across the scientific landscape.


Following citation trails

At the end of 2019, Clarivate Analytics and Chinese Academy of Sciences co-released their annual report Research Fronts 2019 to identify the hottest and emerging specialty areas in scientific research from 2013 to 2018.

The methodology used in the report was developed in the 1970s by the Institute for Scientific Information™ and still stands strong today. Cumulatively, and over time, citations in research leave a trail that highlights progress and advancements across a range of fields. By regularly tracking these citations and unpacking the patterns and groupings of how papers are cited – in particular, clusters of papers that are frequently cited together – “Research Fronts” take shape.

These data that make up research fronts reveal links among researchers working on related threads of scientific inquiry, even if the researchers’ backgrounds might not suggest that they belong to the same field or discipline.

Such dynamic research areas make for a must-read report, highlighting the places where traditional disciplines may have blended together and new, diverse channels of investigation have emerged.


Getting involved in breakthrough research


“The most rewarding reviews to carry out are those which challenge my own preconceptions and theories”

Jeremy Bland, Neurophysiologist and honorary lecturer at King’s College London


We mentioned earlier that peer review is a fantastic way to keep up-to-date with cutting edge research in your field. The thing is, this benefit isn’t restricted to the traditional pre-publication peer review model – it also applies to post-publication peer review.

Post-publication peer review supports and shapes research in an open and transparent way, and is one of the most meaningful ways to accelerate scientific discourse after publication.

When used effectively, for example, post-publication peer review enables researchers to edit or update a study with new data in real time, helping to deliver trustworthy research to the world, faster.

This can bring forth immensely powerful results, especially when it’s used to advance papers in hot and emerging fields of research…


Advancing new research on Publons

With the above in mind, we’ve provided some of the hot and emerging research fronts from 2019 that contributed to the findings in the latest Research Fronts report.

You’ll find these papers below, waiting for you to read and create your post-publication peer review on Publons™.

To add a post-publication peer review on Publons, simply follow these steps:


  1. Click on any paper that interests you below
  2. Click the button, “Add Review” under the “Contribute” section
  3. You’ll be taken to your Private Dashboard. From there, select “post-publication review”
  4. Write your review in the content box provided at the bottom of the screen
  5. Select your display preferences
  6. Click “Submit review”


You can also Score any of the papers below in terms of Quality and Significance. Scoring offers quick insight into how the experts (researchers in the peer review community) rate a manuscript. “Quality” is intended to be a measure of the paper’s methodology and rigor, while “Significance” is intended to denote novelty as well as relevance to its field and journal.

To Score a paper:

  1. Click on any paper that interests you below
  2. Click the button, “Score Paper” under the “Contribute” section


A final note for early-career researchers

Want to review but have never been asked? Or are you keen to improve your peer review skills by interacting with new, bold research? Here are a few reasons why post-publication peer review is a practical way to build your confidence in review. It offers:

  • New research to learn from and critique
  • A way to showcase your skills and expertise in your field
  • A chance to connect with researchers in your line of work
  • Insight into how other researchers are looking at and learning from new research

If you’re not quite ready to get involved in post-publication peer review, or you’re looking for tips and resources (including our exclusive Review Template), join the Publons Academy, our free and practical peer review training course.


Hot and emerging research fronts:

You can learn more about the methodology used to select these hot and emerging research fronts here. And if you want to access the full text of the papers below, be sure to download EndNote Click for one-click access to full-text research papers.


Agricultural, plant and animal sciences

Hot research front: The jasmonate signaling mechanism for regulation of plant growth and Defense

Hot research front: Application of unmanned aerial systems in crop phenotyping

Emerging research front: The mechanism of rice OsAUX1 gene in promoting root hair elongation under low phosphorus conditions


Ecology and environmental sciences

Hot research front: The environmental character, human exposure and health risk of endocrine disruptors

Hot research front: Phosphorus loads and pollution and health risk of cyanobacterial blooms

Emerging research front: Effects of environmental pollutants on gut microbiota



Hot research front: CESM and RCP8.5-based studies of climate change

Hot research Front: Pollution and environmental risk control of heavy metals in major mineral deposits in China

Emerging research front: Effects of thermal-damage on mechanical behavior of rock


Clinical Medicine:

Hot research front: Efficacy and safety of infliximab biosimilar

Hot research front: Efficacy and safety of infliximab biosimilar

Emerging research front: Clinical outcomes of percutaneous coronary intervention in patients with stable coronary artery disease


Biological Sciences

Hot research front: Plasmid-mediated polymyxin resistance gene

Hot research front: Cas13: a new CRISPR system targeting RNA

Emerging research front: Circular RNA as a novel biomarker for cancer


Chemistry and Materials Science

Hot research front: Solar steam generation

Hot research front: Solar steam generation

Emerging research front: Difunctionalization of unactivated alkenes via distal functional group migration strategy



Hot research front: New deep-UV nonlinear optical materials

Hot research front: New deep-UV nonlinear optical materials

Emerging research front: Studies of B-physics anomalies


Astronomy and Astrophysics

Hot research front: Multi-messenger observations of a binary neutron star merger GW170817

Hot research front: Multi-messenger observations of a binary neutron star merger GW170817

Emerging research front: Investigations of dark matter in the early universe with 21 cm line observations


Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering

Hot research front: Data security in the cloud computing environment

Hot research front: State of charge estimation of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles

Emerging research front: Application of convolutional neural network in magnetic resonance image processing


Economics, Psychology and other Social Sciences

Hot research front: Decomposition analysis method for energy and carbon emissions

Hot research front: Decomposition analysis method for energy and carbon emissions

Emerging research front: Industry 4.0 and its applications


Looking for Hot and Emerging research in Engineering? You can find a separate report covering mechanical and vehicle engineering; information and electronic engineering; chemical, metallurgical, and materials engineering; energy and mining engineering; civil, hydraulic, and architectural engineering; environmental and light textile engineering; agriculture; medicine and health; and engineering management here.


Not on Publons? Join today


Discover more research tips in our research smarter series.