Beginning on October 1st, the Nobel Prize committees will announce their selections for this year’s awards, and a small group of researchers will see their names added to an elite corps dating back to 1901 – the recipients of science’s highest honor.
Since 2002, Clarivate Analytics has marked this occasion with an annual tradition of its own: Identifying researchers whose work, according to citations recorded in Web of Science, would be worthy of a Nobel nod. Clarivate now announces the 2018 class of Citation Laureates – 17 researchers whose work is judged to be of Nobel class and who may indeed receive a summons to Sweden someday to collect a prize.
Follow the citations
In selecting new Citation Laureates, Clarivate analysts primarily draw upon Web of Science to seek researchers whose published papers have been cited by other scientists at a rate far above the norm – typically in the top fraction of 1% of all papers. These high citation totals directly reflect the utility and significance of the work as judged by peers – particularly when, in the case of potential Citation Laureates, the citations are manifestly connected with the kind of consequential discovery or advance that typically draws the attention of the Nobel committees. Another useful indicator is provided by the so-called predictor prizes that often precede a Nobel, such as the Lasker Awards in biomedicine.
Of course, actually predicting Nobel Prize winners in any given year is a tricky business, as the prize committees often call out work that took place decades in the past, so divining exactly when a given achievement might be “due” is a tall order. Also, in endowing the prizes, Alfred Nobel stipulated that only living researchers are eligible. Over time, the population of worthy (and aging) candidates has grown to surpass the comparatively small number of Nobel Prizes that are conferred only once a year, such that many Nobel-worthy researchers, unfortunately, will never attain the award.
Therefore, as always, these latest additions to the existing ranks of Citation Laureates (now numbering upwards of 300) should not be taken as literal predictions for the 2018 Nobel Prizes. Rather, whether or not a Nobel Prize is in their future, these newest honorees, and all the Citation Laureates, have demonstrated themselves to be of Nobel caliber – a worthy distinction in itself.
Nevertheless, 46 Citation Laureates have gone on to win a Nobel – 27 within two years and 35 within three years of their selection.
A diverse range of research
As with every year’s new class of Citation Laureates, this newest group – 17 researchers based in seven countries – accounts for a vast range of inquiry and discovery. Their areas of research focus include such topics as:
- biochemical agents whose malfunction contributes to cancer and other diseases;
- physical processes that help explain the cosmos or promise new applications in energy storage;
- powerful tools for exploring the genome and determining chemical structures;
- modeling and other techniques to fathom the dynamics of organizations and the marketplace; and
- elucidation – now more grimly topical than ever – of how opiates and other drugs of abuse work in the brain.
Learn more: Download the 2018 Citation Laureates report, examine the full complement of candidates who still await possible Nobel recognition, or see a summary of successful selections.