2023 Analysis

Transforming human ingenuity into our world’s greatest breakthroughs

“As the need for high-quality data from rigorously selected sources is becoming ever more important, we have adapted and responded to technological advances and changes in the publishing landscape. Just as we have applied stringent standards and transparent selection criteria to identify trusted journals, we have evolved our evaluation and selection policies for our annual Highly Cited Researchers program to address the challenges of an increasingly complex and polluted scholarly record.”

Clarivate™ is this year announcing 7,125 Highly Cited Researcher designations to 6,849 individuals. The number of designations exceeds individuals because some researchers receive recognition in more than one Essential Science Indicators™ (ESI) field. This analysis of nations and institutions counts Highly Cited Researcher designations or appearances and is thus based on the total of 7,125.

The 7,125 Highly Cited Researcher designations of 2023 are unevenly distributed by field, in accordance with the size of each.

The table below summarizes the number of researchers in each ESI field and in the cross-field category.

Highly Cited Researchers by ESI field and cross-field category

ESI Field Number of Highly Cited Researchers
Agricultural Sciences 117
Biology and Biochemistry 282
Chemistry 254
Clinical Medicine 477
Computer Science 96
Economics and Business 86
Engineering 131
Environment and Ecology 137
Geosciences 174
Immunology 203
Materials Science 232
Microbiology 200
Molecular Biology and Genetics 186
Neuroscience and Behavior 227
Pharmacology and Toxicology 159
Physics 165
Plant and Animal Science 189
Psychiatry and Psychology 173
Social Sciences 230
Space Science 75
Total 3,793
Cross-field 3,332
Grand total 7,125

Highly Cited Researchers 2023 work in some 67 countries/regions, but 83.8% are from just 10 and 72.7% from the first five, a remarkable concentration of top talent.

Our analysis is based on primary researcher affiliations, which reflects the information available from the scholarly record (i.e., the contact details on their Highly Cited Papers in ESI), combined with any requested updates from the researchers themselves. The United States still has the highest concentration of Highly Cited Researchers in the world with 2,669 in 2023. This amounts to 37.5% of the group, down from 38.3% in 2022, 39.7% in 2021, 41.5% in 2020, 44.0% in 2019 and 43.3% in 2018.

Mainland China maintains its second position again this year, with 1,275 Highly Cited Researchers, or 17.9%, up from 16.2% in 2022, 14.2% in 2021, 12.1% in 2020, 10.2% in 2019 and 7.9% in 2018. Since 2018 Mainland China has more than doubled its share of the Highly Cited Researchers population. The United Kingdom, with 574 researchers or 8.1%, is in third spot again this year and rounding out the top 10, are Germany (336), Australia (321), Canada (218), the Netherlands (195), France (139), Hong Kong (120), and Italy (115). Switzerland (103) and Singapore (109) fell out of the top 10 this year, replaced by Hong Kong and Italy, respectively. These figures do not include the few cases in which a Highly Cited Researcher opted to list a primary affiliation that represented a Research Fellowship rather than a permanent home base.


Researchers from Mainland China in 2023


Loss in Highly Cited Researchers
for the United States this year

We have observed a notable increase in the share of Highly Cited Researchers based in Mainland China in recent years. World share is a zero-sum game so as Mainland China has increased its number of Highly Cited Researchers, other countries/regions have declined. In the current year, we observed a loss in world share of Highly Cited Researchers for the United States, which has experienced a 5.9% decrease since 2018. This contrasts with a 10% increase for Mainland China since 2018. The United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and France have all maintained their respective ranks from 2022, with minimal fluctuations in their percentage shares.

Two newcomers to the top 10 are Hong Kong, which has seen its number of Highly Cited Researchers grow to 120, up from 97 last year, giving it a 1.7% share of Highly Cited Researchers worldwide and Italy with 115 Highly Cited Researchers, up from 104 last year, and a world share of 1.6%.

The headline story continues to be one of sizeable gains for Mainland China and continuing incremental loss of share for the United States. This trend reflects a rebalancing of scientific and scholarly contributions at the highest level, underscoring the globalization of the research landscape.

Highly Cited Researchers by country or region

Rank Country/Region Number of HCRs 2023 World Share (%) Change from 2022
1 United States 2,669 37.5 -0.8
2 China, Mainland 1,275 17.9 1.7
3 United Kingdom 574 8.1 0.1
4 Germany 336 4.7 -0.4
5 Australia 321 4.5 -0.2
6 Canada 218 3.1 0
7 The Netherlands 195 2.7 -0.2
8 France 139 2 0.1
9 Hong Kong 120 1.7 0.3
10 Italy 115 1.6 0.1

In the 2023 ranking of institutions with the highest number of Highly Cited Researchers affiliated to them, 52 organizations – including universities, government agencies or other research institutes– are home to 27 or more Highly Cited Researchers. The university with the greatest number of Highly Cited Researchers is Harvard, as it has been in past years. Its 237 Highly Cited Researchers place it well ahead of third-ranked Stanford University, with 126. Among all institutions, including governmental and other types of research organizations, the Chinese Academy of Sciences heads the list with 270 Highly Cited Researchers, up from 228 last year. We include the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) as part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an association also indicated in the Organization-Enhanced data of Web of Science (Chinese Academy of Sciences: University of Science and Technology of China, CAS). USTC itself is home to 28 Highly Cited Researchers.

Other top-ranked governmental or non-university institutions include the U.S. National Institutes of Health (105), the Max Planck Society (59), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (49) and the Broad Institute (27).


Highly Cited Researchers are from
the research institutions aligned
to the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Highly Cited Researchers by organization

Rank Name Number of HCRs
1 Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Mainland 270
2 Harvard University, United States 237
3 Stanford University, United States 126
4 National Institutes of Health (NIH) , United States 105
5 Tsinghua University, China Mainland 78
6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States 73
7 University of California San Diego, United States 71
8 University of Pennsylvania, United States 63
9 University of Oxford, United Kingdom 62
10 Max Planck Society, Germany 59
11 University of California San Francisco, United States 58
12 University College London, United Kingdom 57
13 University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 55
14 Washington University (WUSTL), United States 54
15 University of California Berkeley, United States 52
16 Johns Hopkins University, United States 51
17 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, United States 49
18 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom 48
18 Yale University, United States 48
20 University of California Los Angeles, United States 45
20 University of Washington Seattle, United States 45
22 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 44
23 Columbia University, United States 43
24 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, United States 41
25 Cornell University, United States 40
25 Peking University, China Mainland 40
25 University of Melbourne, Australia 40
25 University of Queensland, Australia 40
29 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States 39
29 King’s College London, United Kingdom 39
29 National University of Singapore, Singapore 39
32 Mayo Clinic, United States 37
32 Zhejiang University, China Mainland 37
34 Northwestern University, United States 36
35 University of Toronto, Canada 35
36 University of New South Wales, Australia 34
37 Imperial College London, United Kingdom 33
37 King Saud University, Saudi Arabia 33
39 Fudan University, China Mainland 32
40 Beijing Institute of Technology, China Mainland 31
40 University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom 31
40 University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, United States 31
43 University of Minnesota, United States 30
44 City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 29
45 Northwestern Polytechnical University, China Mainland 28
45 University of Maryland, United States 28
45 University of Sydney, Australia 28
45 Utrecht University, the Netherlands 28
49 Broad Institute, United States 27
49 Université Paris Cité, France 27
49 Université Paris Saclay, France 27
49 University of Michigan, United States 27
Highly Cited Researchers from universities of Mainland China and Hong Kong in the top 50 list

It is notable that there are now six Mainland China universities in the Top 50 and two in Hong Kong: Tsinghua ranked fifth (78), University of Hong Kong, at thirteenth (55), Peking, tied at twenty-fifth (40), Zhejiang, tied at thirty-second (37), Fudan, at thirty-ninth (32), Beijing Institute of Technology, tied at fortieth (31), City University of Hong Kong at forty-fourth (29) and Northwestern Polytechnical University, tied at forty-fifth (28). That amounts to 330 recognitions of Highly Cited Researchers, or 4.6% of the list.

The top 10 ranked institutions are the same as last year. Harvard and the Chinese Academy of Sciences switched rank from first to second and second to first. Stanford, NIH, Tsinghua, MIT, and Oxford held their places at third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth, respectively. The Max Planck Society dropped in rank from seventh to tenth, while University of California San Diego moved up from eighth to seventh and University of Pennsylvania rose from tenth to eighth.

There was a more dynamic reshuffling of lower ranked institutions, but many familiar names remain. Among those rising in rank were the University of Hong Kong, which increased from twenty-sixth in rank to thirteenth. Its tally of Highly Cited Researchers rose from 38 last year to 55 this year, contributing to Hong Kong’s ascent into the Top 10 nations and regions in 2023. The University of California San Francisco jumped from a shared nineteenth position last year to the eleventh spot this year.

Two French universities have entered the Top 50 list this year. Université Paris Cité and Université Paris Saclay have secured the forty-ninth position, each with 27 Highly Cited Researcher recognitions.

Highly Cited Researchers identified in the cross-field category

This is the sixth year we have sought to identify researchers with cross field impact – those who might contribute multiple Highly Cited Papers in several different fields – but would not register enough Highly Cited Papers in any single ESI field to be considered for selection.

It is important to understand the difference between selection as a Highly Cited Researcher in the cross-field category and selection in more than one ESI field. Both classes of individuals have demonstrated significant research influence across fields. Cross-field researchers, however, qualify for selection based on the sum of their Highly Cited Papers™ and citations that meets a normalized threshold equivalent to selection in any field whereas those named in multiple fields qualify outright in each field.

Highly Cited Researchers identified in the multiple categories

Among the 3,793 researchers named as Highly Cited in the 20 ESI fields, 238, or 6.3%, appear in two ESI fields and only 26, or 0.7%, appear in three or more fields. (Cross-field researchers, of which there are 3,332, qualify in only one category or else they would have been chosen in one or more ESI fields.)

Highly Cited Researchers appear in three or more fields

Upholding research integrity

As the need for high-quality data from rigorously selected sources is becoming ever more important, here at the Institute for Scientific Information we have had to adapt and respond to technological advances and changes in the publishing landscape as we identify individuals for inclusion.

Just as we have applied stringent standards and transparent selection criteria to identify trusted journals, we have evolved our evaluation and selection policies for our annual Highly Cited Researchers program as we address the challenges of an increasingly complex and polluted scholarly record.

Some decisions are straight-forward – to award credit to a single author among many tens or hundreds listed on a paper strains reason. Therefore, we eliminate any Highly Cited Paper with more than 30 authors or explicit group authorship as defined by publisher, from our analysis. In addition, we do not count highly cited papers that have been retracted from the Web of Science index when creating our list of preliminary candidates. Beyond this, researchers found to have committed scientific misconduct in formal proceedings conducted by a researcher’s institution, a government agency, a funding agency, or a publisher cannot be selected as a Highly Cited Researcher.

Our response evolves each year, and for our 2023 evaluation and selection, we added more filters and checks to our analysis. We now look at a growing number of factors when evaluating papers including, but not limited to:

  • Extreme levels of hyper-authorship of papers. Our expectation is that an author has provided a meaningful contribution to any paper which bears their name and the publication of multiple papers per week over prolonged periods strains our understanding of normative standards of authorship and credit.
  • Excessive self-citation – We exclude papers which reveal unusually high levels of self-citation. For each ESI field, a distribution of self-citation is obtained, and extreme outliers (a very small fraction) are identified and evaluated. We also look for evidence of prodigious, very recent publications that represent research of incremental value, accompanied by high levels of author self-citation.
  • Unusual patterns of collaborative group citation activity and anomalous levels of citations from co-authors. The identification of networks of co-authors raises the possibility that an individual’s high citation counts may be highly reliant on citations from this network; if more than half of a researcher’s citations derive from co-authors, we consider this suggests a narrow influence, rather than the broad community influence we seek to reflect.

Analysts at the ISI use other filters to identify anomalous publishing activities.

We can report, with the implementation of more filters this year, the number of potential preliminary candidates excluded from our final list increased from 500 in 2022 to more than 1,000 for 2023.

We explicitly call for the research community to police itself through thorough peer review and other internationally recognized procedures to ensure integrity in research and its publication.