Over 1,000 excluded from highly cited researcher list for ‘fraud’

More rigorous checking targets hyper-authorship, excessive self-citation and unusual patterns of group citation activity

November 18, 2023
Pinocchio in the window building store of wooden toys in San Marino
Source: iStock

The publisher of a prominent list of highly cited researchers has once again seen a sharp increase in the number of academics excluded for research misconduct.

The Highly Cited Researchers list for 2023 recognises 6,849 influential researchers at universities, research institutes and commercial organisations around the world who have demonstrated significant and broad influence in their research.

However, Clarivate’s Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) warned of a concentration of talent, with 84 per cent based in just 10 countries.

The evaluation and selection process – which draws on data from the Web of Science citation index – was expanded this year to respond to a rise in threats to research integrity.

Enhanced qualitative filters were used to identify publication anomalies including extreme levels of hyper-authorship, excessive self-citation or unusual patterns of group citation activity, which warrant exclusion from the list. 

As a result, more than 1,000 researchers were excluded from the final list this year – up from 550 in 2022, which was also nearly double the number seen the year before.

“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,” said David Pendlebury, head of research analysis at the ISI.

“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 programme to address the challenges of an increasingly complex and polluted scholarly record.”

database of top-cited scientists was also recently created by John Ioannidis of the Meta-Research Innovation Centre at Stanford (METRICs) at Stanford University and published by Elsevier, based on the impact of a researcher’s work, rather than their productivity.

The final ISI list recognised academics from more than 1,300 institutions across 67 nations and regions, but the ISI said it was a “zero-sum game” as to which country led its list.

Once again, the US dominates the world share, with 38 per cent of all designations – though this has fallen by six percentage points in the last five years.

Meanwhile China – which sits in second on 18 per cent – has increased its share by 10 percentage points over the same period.

“This reflects a transformational rebalancing of scientific and scholarly contributions at the top level through the globalisation of research,” the ISI said,

The UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and France have all maintained their respective ranks from 2022, with minimal fluctuations in their percentage shares.

The university with the greatest number of Highly Cited Researchers is Harvard University – as it has been in past years – with 237.

Among all institutions, including governmental and other types of research organisations, the Chinese Academy of Sciences heads the list with 270, up from 228 last year.


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles