October 9, 2002

An interesting new free service from the fine folks at ISI is ISIHighlyCited.com. What it does is identify the most highly cited researchers in several different scientific fields, such as physics & chemistry. They intend to have 250 scientists profiled eventually, but most fields seem to have about 100 in there already. Given that it's not complete, it seems a bit premature to complain about the service, but I can't help myself. In the last couple of days, 9 scientists have been awarded the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics and chemistry. How many of these obviously important members of their respective scientific communities appear on ISI's cite? That's right. Not one.

Let me quote from their info page: "…an expert gateway to the most highly influential scientists and scholars worldwide" and "...gives research professionals working in a variety of occupations an invaluable tool to identify individuals, departments and laboratories that have made fundamental contributions to the advancement of science and technology in recent decades."

I would maintain that citation frequency has very little to do with the actual influence and quality of the work and that we should use ISI's new service very carefully. In terms of tenure and promotions decisions, what is it worth? I'm not sure. Personally, I take most of what is there with a small grain of salt. What would you rather have? Your name on an ISI web page or a Nobel prize? End of rant.

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