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Highly Cited Researchers
2020 recipientsMethodologyFAQs


How do you identify researchers in your Highly Cited Researchers list?

The Highly Cited Researchers™ list from Clarivate™ represents scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

Researchers are selected for their exceptional performance in one or more of 21 broad fields (those used in Clarivate Essential Science Indicators™, or ESI) or across several fields.

For more information on how we identify researchers, please refer to our Methodology section.

I have a very common name, and some other people with the same name form (surname and initials) work in the same field that I do. How did you make sure not to confuse me and my papers with others and their papers in your analysis?

To ensure correct attribution of papers to authors, we used a combination of algorithmically disambiguating author information and manual inspection of highly cited papers. Manual review of the highly cited papers attributed to an author involves the examination of author identifiers, emails, the subject of the papers as well as the journals in which they were published, review of the institutional addresses, and inspection of co-authorships. Often this was sufficient to resolve questions of authorship for a unique individual.

Original papers were sometimes consulted to obtain a full name not present in the Web of Science™ bibliographic record (some journals do not publish full author names). Reference was made to websites of researchers themselves and their curricula vitae if questions remained, which sometimes arose when a researcher changed institutional affiliations several times during the period surveyed.

We would like to think our efforts to resolve authorship questions resulted in 100% clean data, but with any such effort and more than 6,400 researchers, we likely fell short in some few specific instances and will make adjustments where required.

I have been named a Highly Cited author in Engineering but my field and departmental affiliation is actually Mathematics. Would you change my designation to Mathematics?

We understand that you identify yourself as a mathematician, but we found your greatest influence, according to our analysis, to be in Engineering as it is defined in Essential Science Indicators™. There is no universally agreed field classification scheme, and the use of journals to define fields is approximate at best. The practical advantage of our method is that we can fairly compare individuals against one another in the same consistently defined sphere.

What is the Cross-Field Category?

In 2018 we introduced a new Cross-Field category that identifies researchers who have contributed to highly cited papers across several different fields. This is the second year that we are identifying researchers with cross-field influence.

Please refer to the Methodology section for more information about this category.

I have been named a Cross-Field Highly Cited Researcher, but I am a Geologist and ask that I be placed in the category Geosciences.

If you had a sufficient number of highly cited papers and total citations to publications assigned to the ESI field Geosciences, you would have been selected and named in that field and not named a Highly Cited Researcher in the Cross-Field category. Instead, a tally of all your highly cited papers, not only in Geosciences but also in Engineering and in Environment/Ecology, revealed a publication and citation record equivalent to those selected in any one or more ESI fields. In other words, you qualified for selection through the combination of highly cited papers in several fields, demonstrating superior multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary influence.

To list you in Geosciences would misrepresent the measure by which those selected for that field were chosen and the manner in which you qualified for selection in a different class.

One of our faculty members was on a prior Highly Cited Researchers list (e.g. 2001, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019) but doesn’t appear in the new list. Shouldn't they be on the new list?

Not necessarily, although there are many researchers who, in fact, appear on the both old and new lists. The period of analysis used for the new list is limited to 2009-2019. Citations were tabulated through the end of 2019. Clarivate will retain and provide the old lists side-by-side with the new list. In any case, once a researcher is designated as Highly Cited by Clarivate, that researcher is always deemed Highly Cited in our view.

Why does a junior member of our faculty appear on the Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list, but a more senior member does not?

The specific methodology used in generating the new list can turn up researchers – even so-called junior researchers – who have contributed multiple highly cited papers during 2009-2019, whereas more senior and even more cited scientists may not have been identified because they did not publish as many Highly Cited Papers in a field (as we defined it) or across fields during this period.

We believe the result aligns with our goal: the identification of researchers with substantial contemporary influence as measured by the number of highly cited papers produced, even if those papers, in terms of total citations, do not sum to more than that of other researchers who have longer publication and higher citation records over their entire careers.

Did you apportion credit for Highly Cited Papers according to the number of authors on a paper? In some fields and especially with some Highly Cited Papers (high-energy physics, for example), papers reflect the work of large teams.

The current process uses the whole counting method for papers and citations – i.e. every author on a paper was apportioned equal credit.

With the increase of papers resulting from large teams, we are exploring whether there is advantage to fractional counting.

This year we excluded from consideration any paper with more than 30 institutional addresses in all ESI fields, not only in Physics and in Space Science, which was our practice in previous years.

For more information on this change in methodology, please refer to the Methodology section.

How do you handle cases in which a highly cited paper is later retracted, or an identified Highly Cited Researcher has been found to have committed scientific misconduct?

We do not count highly cited papers that have been retracted. Researchers found to have committed scientific misconduct in formal proceedings conducted by a researcher’s institution, a government agency, a funder, or a publisher, are excluded from our list of Highly Cited Researchers. Last year, we also began to exclude a small number of researchers whose citation record exhibited usually high levels of self-citation. For the procedure, see: Adams, J., Pendlebury, D. and Szomszor, M., “How Much is Too Much? The Difference between Research Influence and Self-Citation Excess,” Scientometrics, 123 (2):1119–1147, May 2020.

What is a research fellowship affiliation?

An asterisk accompanying a primary affiliation indicates that the Highly Cited Researcher is associated with this institution through a research fellowship, as specified by information supplied to Clarivate by the researcher. This rarely occurs since most researchers follow the established tradition of using the secondary affiliation for such appointments and reserve the primary affiliation slot for their main employer. There may well be such associations for other Highly Cited Researchers that have not been brought to our attention.


I want to talk to someone at Clarivate about promoting Highly Cited Researchers at my institution.

If your institution’s press office or PR department would like to enquire about a media kit, please contact isi@clarivate.com

I believe I have a method that produces a result more consistent with the scientific community’s perception of top researchers in a field. Would you take into account my feedback?

We would appreciate your feedback! Please contact us at Clarivate Customer Care

How do I access the previous lists of Highly Cited Researchers?

These lists will be available as Excel files in the archives section of the Highly Cited Researchers website when the final 2020 list is published.

Updating list information

I am a Highly Cited Researcher on the 2020 list. How do I update my primary or secondary affiliation to show my current position?

If your primary or secondary affiliation is incorrect, please contact wosg.support@clarivate.com.

I am a Highly Cited Researcher from a prior list (e.g. 2001, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019). How do I update my primary or secondary affiliation to show my current position?

At this time we are no longer updating information present in prior year lists.

I represent a university with which a Highly Cited Researcher is affiliated. How can I request the update of primary or secondary affiliation to show this relationship?

Please contact the researcher in question and ask them to reach out to wosg.support@clarivate.com to update their information.

Executive summary

Experts from the Institute for Scientific Information™ provide exclusive insight into the list of Highly Cited Researchers 2020, including the methodology, country, and institutional breakdowns, and much more.