Clarivate has published its annual list of Nobel-level researchers


Clarivate™ draws on Web of Science™ publication and citation data to reveal annual list of Citation Laureates™ – researchers ‘of Nobel class’ whose high-impact contributions have transformed their fields and paved the path for the future of science.

Each year in early October, a select handful of researchers receive science’s highest honor in the form of the Nobel Prize. Since 2002, this highly anticipated event is preceded by Clarivate citation analysts’ annual list of Citation Laureates. These influential researchers have authored extremely highly cited publications and contributed to science over decades, in ways that have transformed their fields in the present and laid the groundwork for the scientific advances of the future.

Since 2002, Clarivate has named Citation Laureates in the areas recognized by the Nobel Prize: Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics. These researchers have laid the foundations for their fields, often pioneering whole new areas of science and paving the way for those who have come after them. Citation Laureates also exhibit exceptional levels of citation among their peers and have often produced multiple highly cited papers.

However, a high level of citation is only a prerequisite for selection on this prestigious list. While we say that citations at high frequency reflect contributions that have been influential in some way, we also maintain that citation data should be combined with qualitative information and human judgement. In order to do this, we analyze:

  • Discovery: whether the authors of the highly cited papers were the primary discoverers within their research topic
  • Awards: whether the researchers have received international or national awards for this research
  • Nobel «taste»: whether the identified achievements «make sense» alongside past choices
  • Timing: whether the topics would likely receive attention or if they are «too similar» to recent Nobel prizes or «too soon» (Nobel recognition typically comes 20 years or more after a published discovery or contribution)

At the intersection of these quantitative and qualitative data sets, we find potential Nobel laureates who we define as Citation Laureates. To date, we have identified more than 360 Citation Laureates in our Hall of Citation Laureates. As of September 2021, 59 of these later received the Nobel Prize, 37 within three years of being named a Citation Laureate. Their achievement demonstrates once again the early association between citations in the literature, influence through a research community and peer judgement.

Celebrating the 2021 inductees to the Hall of Citation Laureates

This year we name 16 new Citation Laureates who have made significant contributions in each of the four Nobel Prize areas. Some of the topics of their highly cited research contributions include:

  • identification and isolation of the Hantaan virus (hantavirus), agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
  • fundamental contributions to the fields of complex networks and complex systems, including work on community structure and random graph models
  • pioneering research in free-radical chemistry including the role of free radicals and antioxidants in human disease
  • contributions to international macroeconomics and insights on global debt and financial crises

As always, we do not attempt to predict that an individual will receive a Nobel Prize in a specific year. Rather, we identify researchers «of Nobel class» who are, in the words of sociologist Harriet Zuckerman, «peers of the prize-winners in every sense except that of having the award». While not all can possibly become Nobel laureates, we believe strongly that their research achievements ought to be highlighted and celebrated.

When the Nobel Prizes for 2021 are announced, we will discover who will be honored with the laurels of the Nobel Assembly in Stockholm. As ever, we hope that some richly deserving Citation Laureates will be among them.



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