Publication Analysis 1996-2007
by Ralf Neumann, Labtimes 03/2009

Europe... ... and the World Most Cited Authors... ... and Papers

Most Cited Authors - Pictures

In terms of citations, the United Kingdom dominates European parasitology research much more clearly than any other biomedical discipline. Twice as many citations as second-ranking France and 23 UK researchers among the 30 most-cited authors are only two factors documenting this success.

Many people are sceptical about the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia and generally distrust the quality of its voluntary entries. However, concerning topics from biology and medicine, even many of the experts state that, overall, they are really surprised by the accuracy and correctness of the corresponding ‘articles’.

‘Parasitology’ might be a good example. In the second paragraph of its article Wikipedia states, “The parasitic mode of life is the most common on the planet, with representatives from all major taxa, from the simplest unicellular organisms to complex vertebrates. Every free-living species has its own unique species of parasite, so the number of parasitic species greatly exceeds the number of free living species.”

Okay, not exactly earthshaking news. However, the article commences as follows: “Parasitology is the study of parasites, their hosts and the relationship between them. As a biological discipline, the scope of parasitology is not determined by the organism or environment in question but by their way of life. This means it forms a synthesis of other disciplines and draws on techniques from fields such as cell biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, evolution and ecology.” Thus, in the first paragraph the pronounced multidisciplinary character is already singled out as one of the most prominent features of parasitology research.

Diverse discipline

With this information at hand, you can easily imagine the problems bound to arise when comparing, for example, the publications of somebody working on potential vaccines against malaria to those of a colleague studying the co-evolution of the parasitic fungus Cordyceps kniphfioides and its host, the ant Cephalotes atratus. Or to a ‘computational parasitologist’ who combs, mainly in sillico, through the genomes of certain parasites searching for whatever useful sequences can be found.

As sure as such a multidisciplinary character greatly affects the comparison of individual parasitology researchers, you can be equally sure those individual differences are balanced out at a level where the research outputs of whole nations are compared.

However, one restriction we had to adopt in previous issues of Lab Times for the publication analyses of other biomedical disciplines also held true for this comparison of the European countries’ publication performances in parasitology research. Since the publication platform SCImago Journal & Country Rank (SCImagoJR), used for this analysis, doesn’t provide any tools to extract relevant parasitology articles from multidisciplinary journals such as Nature or The Lancet, we weren’t able to include any articles from these journals in the comparison of individual countries (see tables p. 38). The consequence being that we were forced to restrict the analysis to the 39 specialist journals listed by SCImagoJR in its ‘Subject Category: Parasitology’.

Swiss papers cited the highest on average

Of course, this way some of the most prominent papers in the field might have been omitted from this part of the analysis. Nevertheless, we believe a survey, restricted to the expert journals only, certainly provides sufficiently valid indicators for the productivity of the individual countries’ parasitology research over the period 1996 to 2007 (see tables on page 39). For the rankings of the most-cited researchers and papers in parasitology (see tables p. 40), however, publications in all journals were included.

Now for the results. On the European countries’ level, the overwhelming dominance of the United Kingdom (UK) cannot be overlooked. Between 1996 and 2007, researchers from the UK (co-)authored double the amount of articles in the parasitology journals compared to their colleagues from France, who ranked second. When assessing how frequently those articles have been cited to-date, the UK researchers gained even more ground: they actually collected more citations than second, third and fourth altogether (France, Germany and Switzerland). Nevertheless, at the pan-European level, the performances of France and Switzerland were well above average when compared to other biomedical disciplines.

Not least because of the strong performance by the UK, the USA has this time round clearly lost ground behind the whole of Europe, with not only less than half of the articles in the parasitology journals but also in the number of overall citations. The surprise here is Brazil and Kenya, both of which entered the non-European Top 6 for the first time and left behind countries like China, South Korea and New Zealand.

Even more surprising is Kenya’s excellent ‘citation per article’-ratio. Articles in parasitology journals from 1996-2007, which included at least one author with an address in Kenya, were cited 15.1 times on average. Only Switzerland achieved a higher ratio (15.8); whilst Sweden (12.8) and Ireland (12.4) followed.

Clinical medicine clearly beats basic research

No surprise at all, however, is the fact that papers on human pathogens dominate the list of the most-cited articles. Numbers 1 and 2 were captured by an epidemiological and a biochemical article on Plasmodium falciparum and malaria; numbers 3, 4 and 5 comprise papers on the complete genomes of Encephalitozoon cuniculi, Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania major.

Similarly, the vast majority of the 30 most-cited authors is also working on human pathogenic parasites. The ‘leader’ here, of course, is Plasmodium followed by Leishmania, Trypanosoma and parasitic helminths like Schistosoma, Brugia malayi and Onchocerca volvulus.

That’s also one of the reasons why quite a number of the most-cited authors are working in clinical departments. Actually, five of the Top 10 have their desks and labs in institutes or faculties for tropical medicine. Among them are the two most-cited, Nicholas J. White and Kevin Marsh, who both hold professorships in Oxford but mainly work in research units run by the Wellcome Trust in Bangkok and Kilifi, Kenya, respectively.

From the remaining five researchers among the Top 10, three have specialised on parasite immunology – Fotis Kafatos, current president of the European Research Council, in 3rd place, Chris Newbold in 6th and Christian Bogdan in 10th. Robert Snow in 5th place is an expert in parasite epidemiology and Matthew Berriman (9th) has been one of the protagonists behind several parasites’ genome projects at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton near Cambridge, UK.

Thus, the list of the most-cited authors again reflects the disciplinary diversity of parasitology research. One important sub-field, however, is not represented at all by any of the Top 30: ecology and evolution of parasites. At least in terms of citation numbers, this type of basic research in parasitology apparently has no chance against topics of immediate medical relevance.

So it remains for this last paragraph to at least mention that nevertheless, for example, aspects of host-parasite co-evolution clearly belong to the most interesting questions in parasitology of which nobody can say today how rapidly they might even become medically relevant.


Articles appeared between 1996 and 2007 in journals as listed by Scopus. Numbers for articles and citations (as of April 2009) were taken from the portal SCImago Journal & Country Rank ( applying the subject category “Parasitology”. A country’s figures are derived from articles where at least one author working in the respective European nation is included in the author’s list. Israel is included because it is a member of many European research organisations and programmes (EMBO, FP7 of the EU,...).

Citations of articles published between 1996 and 2007 were recorded until April. 2009 using the Web of Science database from Thomson Scientific. The “most cited papers” had correspondence addresses in Europe or Israel.


Country Citations Articles Cit./Art.
1.Un. Kingdom91.7068.10011,6
11.Czech Rep.5.1858137,0

... and the World

Citations Articles Cit./Art.

Most Cited Authors...

Citations Articles
1.Nicholas J. White, Trop. Med. J. Radcliffe Hosp. Oxford (& Bangkok)11.938453
2.Kevin Marsh, Trop. Med. Churchill Hosp. Univ. Oxford (& Kilifi/Kenya)7.703243
3.Fotis C. Kafatos, Immunogenomics Imperial Coll. London7.404128
4.Brian M. Greenwood, London Sch. Hyg. & Trop. Med. Univ. London7.302219
5.Robert W. Snow, Trop. Publ. Health Univ. Oxford (& Nairobi)6.311165
6.Chris I. Newbold, Mol. Parasitol. Grp. J. Radcliffe Hosp. Oxford5.35480
7.Francois Nosten, Trop. Med. Churchill Hosp. Univ. Oxford (& Bangkok)5.246149
8.Peter G. Kremsner, Trop. Med. Univ. Tübingen (& Lambarene/Gabun)5.037300
9.Matthew Berriman, Wellcome Trust Sanger Inst. Hinxton5.00762
10.Christian Bogdan, Clin. Microbiol. Immunol. & Hyg. Univ. Erlangen4.37985
11.Marcel Tanner, Swiss Trop. Inst. Basel4.093236
12.Neil Hall, Sch. Biol. Sci. Univ. Liverpool4.07449
13.T. Martin Embley, Cell & Mol. Biosci. Univ. Newcastle4.01072
14.Alan M. Fairlamb, Mol. Parasitol. Univ. Dundee3.83294
15.Robert E. Sinden, Parasitol. Imperial Coll. Univ. London3.80291
16.Arnab Pain, Wellcome Trust Sanger Inst. Hinxton3.49654
17.Keith Gull, Mol. Microbiol. Sir William Dunn Sch. Pathol. Univ. Oxford3.483110
18.Martin Röllinghoff, Clin. Microbiol. Immunol. & Hyg. Univ. Erlangen3.442105
19.Anthony A. Holder, Parasitol. Natl. Inst. Med. Res. London 3.367103
20.Reto Brun, Swiss Trop. Inst. Basel3.274226
21.Sanjeev Krishna, Infect. Dis. St. Georges Hosp. Med. Sch. London3.265113
22.Simon L. Croft, London Sch. Hyg. & Trop. Med. Univ. London3.211124
23.Jeremy C. Mottram, Wellcome Ctr. Mol. Parasitol. Glasgow3.12489
24.Stephen A. Ward, Trop. Med. Univ. Liverpool3.123138
25.Graham H. Coombs, Pharm. & Biomed. Sci. Univ. Strathclyde, Glasgow3.044116
26.H. Charles J. Godfray, Zool. Univ. Oxford3.028115
27.Maria Yazdanbakhsh, Parasitol. Univ. Leiden2.95296
28.Rick Maizels, Immunol. & Infect. Res. Univ. Edinburgh2.81087
29.Monique Capron, Inst. Pasteur INSERM Lille2.803156
30.Andrew P. Waters, Parasitol. Univ. Glasgow2.74993

... and Papers

1.Snow RW, Guerra CA, Noor AM, Myint HY, Hay SI
The global distribution of clinical episodes of Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
NATURE, 434 (7030): 214-17 (2005)
2.Jomaa, H; Wiesner, J; Sanderbrand, S; ...; Soldati, D; Beck, E
Inhibitors of the nonmevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis as antimalarial drugs.
SCIENCE, 285 (5433): 1573-1576 (1999)
3.Katinka, MD; Duprat, S; Cornillot, E; ...; Gouy, M; Weissenbach, J; Vivares, CP
Genome sequence and gene compaction of the eukaryote parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi.
NATURE, 414 (6862): 450-453 (2001)
4.Berriman, M; Ghedin, E; ... Embley, TM; Gull, K; ...; Fairlamb, ...; Hall, N; Fraser, CM; Melville, SE; El-Sayed, NM
The genome of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei.
SCIENCE, 309 (5733): 416-422 (2005)
5.Ivens, AC; Peacock, CS; ...; Berriman, M; ...; Mottram, JC; ...; Stuart, KD; Barrell, B; Myler, PJ
The genome of the kinetoplastid parasite, Leishmania major.
SCIENCE, 309 (5733): 436-442 (2005)

Last Changed: 31.03.2012

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