UCT researchers among top 2% in the world

11 October 2023 | Story: Paul Lawrence. Photo: supplied. Read time 3 min.
UCT researchers have once more excelled in the latest University of Stanford’s rankings list of the top 2% of scientists in the world for 2023
UCT researchers have once more excelled in the latest University of Stanford’s rankings list of the top 2% of scientists in the world for 2023

Stanford University released an update to its prestigious list of the top 2% most-cited scientists in their fields in October 2023. The list, widely regarded as a reliable indicator of academic influence and impact, includes more than 100 000 scientists globally, based on their citation impact. 

In total, there are 775 South Africans on the list, of which 136 are from UCT. An impressive 73 UCT researchers rank in the top 1% of their respective fields (calculated relative to the overall size of the field).  

The current version of the Stanford University list is based on a snapshot from Elsevier’s abstract and citation database Scopus as of 1 October 2023, and includes data updated to the end of the citation year 2022.  The data ranks researchers within 22 broad fields and 174 subfields.   

Data, methodology and metrics 

The methodology for selection hinges on the c-score, a composite indicator that focuses on impact (citations) rather than productivity (publications).  

The database not only offers standardised information on traditional metrics like citation counts and the h-index, but also integrates more nuanced indicators such as the hm-index (which uses the number of co-authors to rank researchers) and citations across different authorship positions. These metrics collectively contribute to a combined indicator that provides a holistic view of a scientist’s impact. 

A notable feature of this list is the division of data to reflect both career-long and single-year impacts, offering insights into both enduring and emerging influences in the scientific community. The list also provides metrics both with and without self-citations, a crucial aspect that ensures a more unbiased evaluation of a scientist's work. 

Acknowledging the nuances of citation impact 

It should be noted that citation-based metrics alone don't fully capture a researcher's merit – numerous other factors should be weighed. It is also important to acknowledge that the Scopus database, which forms the basis of the Stanford rankings, doesn't encompass all forms of research outputs. Notably, the rankings do not include authored books and patents, which can be significant components of a researcher's contributions.  

As highlighted by Elsevier, “If an author is not on the list, it is simply because the composite indicator value was not high enough to appear on the list. It does not mean that the author does not do good work.” The list tends to favour those in the physical and health sciences and does not measure social impact.  

Nevertheless, the Stanford rankings is undoubtably one of the key measures of academic excellence. The UCT researchers who have been included on the list represent a community of academic excellence and leadership in their respective fields. 

View the October 2023 update of the Elsevier database

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.