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27 November 2020
Sharing Science: UWC Researchers Among Top 1% Of Cited Scientists Worldwide
Science is all about sharing - millions of researchers publishing research, commenting on the work of other researchers, debating, discussing and improving it. That’s something the University of the Western Cape believes in very strongly, and it shows: eighteen UWC researchers have been ranked among the world’s top 2% most cited scientists in a variety of disciplines.

“Knowledge is power - and that power is needed now more than ever,” said UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius. “For UWC, it’s not just about producing research because that’s our job as academics. It’s about producing research that matters - research that changes lives, that engages with real world issues. It’s about sharing research that makes a difference - and these researchers are living proof of that.”

Citation metrics show how often scientists formally reference research outputs of other researchers in their own papers - but there are a variety of metrics available, and they are not always consistently applied.

The study, A standardised citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field, led by Stanford University researcher John P. Ioannidis and published in PLOS Biology, created a publicly accessible database of a variety of metrics to allow for a more transparent, comparable, and less error-prone approach to citation metrics. They introduced a new way of ranking scientists according to citations and other metrics, but steered away from practices such as self-citations and citation farms where groups of authors cited each other’s papers. 

The database surveyed the output of nearly seven million researchers, and included the top hundred thousand scientists across 22 scientific fields and 176 subfields, as measured over the last 23 years. 

Eight researchers from UWC were recognised as among the world’s most cited scientists over the course of their career, in fields as diverse as marine products research, public health and cosmology.

The list includes:  Of course (as the study authors noted), whole-career metrics place young scientists at a disadvantage - having fewer papers, they have less opportunity to be cited. To help address this problem, they used single-year metrics as well - and for 2019, ten UWC researchers made the cut, in fields as diverse as development ec Prof Pretorius congratulated these scientists for their important and impactful work, and expressed a deep appreciation for their research pedigree - and the hope that these researchers will inspire others in their research endeavours.

“Sharing and collaboration are an essential component of the scientific process,” he said. “But it’s also part of the ethos of the University of the Western Cape. Working together, UWC has gone from a small “Bush college” to a research-led learning and teaching powerhouse. As we celebrate 60 years of growth, education and impact, I’m proud to be able to say that we have never given up on the core of who we are.”