September 18, 2007

Thomson attempts to predict the Nobels again

Last year I chided Thomson ISI about their attempt to predict that year's Nobel Prizes in the various subjects based on their citation data. Since they didn't get a single one of the prizes right, I thought that they should probably give it up. After all, citation count doesn't really measure impact all by itself. Right?

My hopes were in vain as they're at it again this year. From the press release:

Each year, data from ISI Web of KnowledgeSM, a Thomson Scientific research solution, is used to quantitatively determine the most influential researchers in the Nobel categories of chemistry, economics, physiology or medicine, and physics. Because of the total citations to their works, these high-impact researchers are named Thomson Scientific Laureates and predicted to be Nobel Prize winners, either this year or in the near future. Of the 54 Thomson Scientific Laureates named since 2002, four have gone on to win Nobel honors. (Bold is mine. -JD)

Yes, 4 out of 54 is nothing to brag about.

So, let's see how they do this year. The Nobel Foundation will start announcing the true Laureates October 8th here.

Below are the ISI predictions; check the press release and the ISI Laureates Predictions site for details about the individual scientists ISI is mentioning.

Samuel J. Danishefsky
Dieter Seebach
Barry M. Trost


Arthur B. McDonald and Yoji Totsuka
Sumio Iijima
Martin J. Rees, F.R.S.

Physiology or Medicine

R. John Ellis, F.R.S; F. Ulrich Hartl and Arthur Horwich
Fred H. Gage
Joan Massague


Elhanan Helpman and Gene M. Grossman
Robert B. Wilson and Paul R. Milgrom
Jean Tirole

Of course, I have nothing against the scientists and economists that Thomson nominates nor do I want to cast any negative light on the work that they have done. I only want to point out the folly of the methodology that Thomson is using.

We'll see how it goes this year. I'll update this post as the Nobel's are annouced. Oddly, I find myself rooting for Thomson to get a couple of them right this year.

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