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SU academics named Highly Cited Researchers


Three eminent academics at Stellenbosch University (SU) have been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Highly Cited Researchers™ 2021 list from the Web of Science Group, released on Tuesday (16 November).

Professors Oonsie Biggs (cross-fields) Umezuruike Linus Opara (Agricultural Sciences) and Dave Richardson (Environment and Ecology) are among the world's most cited researchers.

Biggs is the incumbent of the DSI/NRF Research Chair in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience in the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition. ​Opara, a distinguished professor, holds the DSI-NRF South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology, while Richardson (also a distinguished professor) is the Director of the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology and Professor in the Department of Botany and Zoology. 

“This distinction of three of our top researchers, acknowledges the quality and impact of their research. SU is very proud of this achievement," commented Prof Eugene Cloete, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU.

The highly anticipated list identifies scientists and social scientists who produced multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their field and year of publication, demonstrating significant research influence among their peers. This year's list contains 6 602 Highly Cited Researchers from more than 70 countries and regions in 21 fields of the sciences and social sciences.

Biggs, Opara and Richardson find themselves in distinguished company alongside 24 Nobel laureates, including five announced this year, and 77 Citation Laureates. The latter group are individuals recognised by Clarivate, through citation analysis, as 'of Nobel class' and potential Nobel Prize recipients.

The methodology that determines the who's who of influential researchers draws on the data and analysis performed by bibliometric experts from the Institute for Scientific Information at the Web of Science Group. It uses InCites Benchmarking & Analytics, Essential Science Indicators and a unique compilation of science performance metrics and trend data based on scholarly paper publication counts and citation data from the Web of Science, the world's largest publisher-neutral citation index and research intelligence platform.

Commenting on the 2021 list, David Pendlebury, Head of Research Analysis at the Institute for Scientific Information, said “it is increasingly important for nations and institutions to recognise and support the exceptional researchers who are driving the expansion of the world's knowledge. This list identifies and celebrates exceptional individual researchers who are having a significant impact on the research community as evidenced by the rate at which their work is being cited by their peers.

“The research they have contributed is fuelling the innovation, sustainability, health and security that is key for our society's future," he added.

The full 2021 Highly Cited Researchers list and executive summary can be found here, and the methodology can be found here​.