SU researchers among world’s highly cited

Professor Oonsie Biggs

Stellenbosch University (SU) once again boasts two eminent academics who have been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list from the Web of Science Group, released recently.

Professors Oonsie Biggs (Cross-Field) and Dave Richardson (Environment and Ecology) are among the world’s most cited researchers. Both achieved the same feat in 2019.

Professor Biggs is the incumbent of the DSI/NRF Research Chair in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience in the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition; and Richardson is the Director of the DSI/NRF Centre for Invasion Biology and Professor in the Department of Botany and Zoology.

The highly anticipated list identifies scientists and social scientists who produced multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their field and year of publication, demonstrating significant research influence among their peers.

This year’s list contains about 3 900 Highly Cited Researchers in 21 fields of the sciences and social sciences, and about 2 500 Highly Cited Researchers identified as having exceptional performance across several fields.

The methodology that determines the who’s who of influential researchers draws on the data and analysis performed by bibliometric experts from the Institute for Scientific Information at the Web of Science Group.

The data derive from Essential Science Indicators, a component of InCites.

The fields are defined by sets of journals and exceptionally, in the case of multidisciplinary journals such as Nature and Science, by a paper-by-paper assignment to a field based on an analysis of the cited references in the papers.

This percentile-based selection method removes the citation advantage of older papers relative to recently published ones, since papers are weighed against others in the same annual cohort.

Commenting on the 2020 list, David Pendlebury, head of research analysis at the Institute for Scientific Information, said: “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.”

He added that “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”.