Journal places Essex social scientists in top 2% in the world for citations

  • Date

    Thu 25 Mar 21

aerial photograph of University of Essex Colchester Campus

Social Science academics from the departments of government, sociology, economics and Essex Business School plus the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) have been listed in the top 100,000 of the world’s most cited academics, placing them among the top 2% in the world, by the journal PLOS Biology.

The report, published in the PLOS Biology Journal, evaluated and ranked about seven million scientists across 22 disciplines. Based on a series of metrics, including the citation impact of their published research both over a whole career and in a single year, the database is among the most comprehensive global faculty-evaluation resources ever produced.

“I was delighted to feature in this list of highly cited scholars as it very encouraging to know that my research has been used and had an impact on advancing the field.” said Professor Emily Grundy, from ISER who included in the list alongside her colleague, Professor Meena Kumari.

Professor Grundy’s work as a demographer focusses on research on health, disability and mortality at older ages; family and household change; family life courses and later life health and well-being.

“It is nice to be recognised, and not something I would have expected earlier in my career”, said Professor Tim Hatton, from the Department of Economics. “I started out as an economic historian and still work in that area. I spent a year's leave teaching at Harvard (a long time ago now) and I started to collaborate with a colleague there on migration from Europe to the co-called New World and our 1998 book is still my most cited publication. Interest in migration was on the rise and I was invited to provide a historical perspective at economics conferences on current migration issues, including immigration policy. With that background, I began studying the determinants of the number asylum applications and at asylum policies in Europe, which had not been a focus in the economics of migration. My citations increased as asylum became a hot political issue and as many others started working on that topic. I am still interested in these issues but, for now, I am turning back to economic history.”

Essex Business School also features in the list. Professor Elisabeth Kelan, whose work focusses on gender and leadership, said: “Traditionally business schools are focused on journal rankings such as the Financial Times Top 50 journals and the Academic Journal Guide by the Chartered Association of Business Schools but citations are gaining more and more importance. It is fantastic news for Essex Business School to be represented on this list and I am delighted that my work is recognised in that way.”

Professor Linsey McGoey, from the Department of Sociology, put the value of citations into wider context: "It’s nice to be recognised, but there is a real threat that universities are pressured to value citation metrics more than they should. High citations are sometimes a sign of impact, but they don’t say what kind of impact.

“They can reflect timeliness, zeitgeist changes, or even controversy when people are cited as an indication of what not to do. I’m a scholar of the politics of knowledge. It’s useful to remember that citation metrics are always political."

Eight colleagues from the Department of Government are in the list. Professor Kristian Gleditsch, who is the highest ranked Essex social scientist in the report, said “I am very pleased to see so many of my younger colleagues in the Department of Government appear on the list based on 2019 citations. This is very compelling evidence of the research excellence and impact of the department and bodes well for future impact. Citations are an important way to measure scholarly influence, as they reflect actual attention and interest in your work by other researchers and main peers, recorded in academic journals.

“My most cited articles have been on either topics that have been of great interest and hence seen more active research, or articles that provided new innovations in data or methods that other researchers have found useful. Topics that have received a great deal of interest include the diffusion of democracy and political change, refugees and civil war, and how grievances can motivate mobilization and a higher risk of civil war.”

The report. ‘Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators’, assesses scientists for career-long citation impact up until the end of 2019 and for citation impact during the single calendar year 2019. The report’s tabulated data include all scientists who are among the top 100,000 across all fields according to the composite citation index when self-citations are included and/or when self-citations are not included. This update also includes scientists who are not in the top 100,000 according to the composite index but are nevertheless within the top 2% of scientists of their main subfield discipline, across those that have published at least five papers.

The full list of Essex Social Scientists ranked in the overall global top 100,000 in PLOS Biology for citation impact in the single calendar year 2019:

  • Professor Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Department of Government
  • Professor Emily M.Grundy, ISER
  • Dr Reed M.Wood, Department of Government
  • Professor Meena Kumari, ISER
  • Professor Lawrence Ezrow, Department of Government
  • Professor Elisabeth Kelan, Essex Business School
  • Professor Paul Whiteley, Department of Government
  • Professor Timothy J.Hatton, Department of Economics
  • Emeritus Professor Ian Budge, Department of Government
  • Professor Philip Leifeld, Department of Government
  • Professor Linsey McGoey, Department of Sociology
  • Professor David Howarth, Department of Government
  • Professor Tobias Böhmelt, Department of Government