Elsevier ranking of most cited Mechanical Engineers

I am not a big fan of measuring scientific accomplishments by citation. Your results, found in your publications, should speak for themselves. The problem, however, is that many people would not want to read your papers and discuss your results. Many people in Academia would also make various weird assumptions based on all kinds of superficial consideration, instead of reading your papers and viewing them in the context of the scientific literature. Consequently, unfortunately, you results do not always speak for themselves. In that case analyzing citation does not hurt.

Elsevier has recently published an updated database "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators" https://elsevier.digitalcommonsdata.com/datasets/btchxktzyw/3
Their methodology is explained in detail on their website. Apparently, they ranked the top ~2% of world researchers, which constitutes about 190,000 out of the total roughly 10 million researchers in the world (there are 4.5 millions of PhD degree holders only in the US).

I was pleased to see that I am at the 27,023-th place (or have rank 11,970) out of all world researchers, scientists and scholars in any field. I decided to further play with numbers in order to better understand it. Source: https://data.mendeley.com/public-files/datasets/btchxktzyw/files/b3e31af2-054c-4b3a-b9c5-6fd9bf10557a/file_downloaded

First, I selected those who work in my formal field, Mechanical Engineering (ME). Namely, those who indicate ME either as their primary or as their secondary field. That filtered out more than 97% of researchers. ME is not the hottest scientific field, so among the top cited scholars there are only 2% of mechanical engineers. I turned out to be at the place number 223 among all researchers identified as Mechanical Engineers in the world.

Then I decided to filter only US-based researchers. Many of top-cited mechanical engineers work in the US. I turned out to be the number 68 among all Mechanical Engineers in the US. And after that, I decided to consider the US Midwest, namely, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. You must compare yourself with you peers. I turned out #16 in our region.

Name Institution papers First paper World rank (self-citation excluded) all areas of science
Bhushan, Bharat The Ohio State University usa 1,078 1973 2021 350
Bažant, Zdenek P. Northwestern University usa 814 1968 2021 364
Choi, Stephen U.S. University of Illinois at Chicago usa 61 1990 2012 1,284
Belytschko, T. Northwestern University usa 571 1964 2016 1,334
Yarin, Alexander L. University of Illinois at Chicago usa 414 1977 2021 2,504
Patankar, Suhas V. University of Minnesota Twin Cities usa 273 1965 2017 2,927
Huang, Yonggang Northwestern University usa 681 1986 2021 3,478
Reitz, Rolf University of Wisconsin usa 412 1975 2019 4,547
Detournay, Emmanuel University of Minnesota Twin Cities usa 215 1977 2021 4,922
Wang, C. Y. Michigan State University usa 561 1964 2021 5,557
Kahraman, A. The Ohio State University usa 176 1989 2021 6,059
Koren, Yoram University of Michigan, Ann Arbor usa 221 1970 2021 6,325
Luo, Alan A. The Ohio State University usa 264 1994 2021 8,569
Vakakis, Alexander F. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign usa 473 1985 2021 8,925
Rohatgi, Pradeep K. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee usa 453 1968 2022 11,797
Nosonovsky, Michael University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee usa 140 2000 2022 11,971

The table includes the total number of publications, the year of the first and of the last publication and the “rank” based on citation (self-citation excluded), which indicates researcher’s place when compared with all disciplines in all countries.

I think it is interesting to see who is on the list above me. Some people have retired, but most of them are active. Almost all of the 15 guys above me (with two exceptions) started their careers in the 1960-1980s. My former boss from my postdoc at Ohio State University, Prof. Bharat Bhushan (he is now emeritus), is at the top of the list. Zdenek Bažant is a famous mechanician and an expert in fracture mechanics. Ted Belytschko (1943-2014) was a prominent scholar. Prof. Alexander Yarin is very famous in fluid mechanics and in particular in the study of droplets. There are other famous people on this list.

What does it tell us? I do not know. But in my opinion (while it is up to peers to judge), I am doing not too bad. 🙂 In Wisconsin, there are only two ME professors above me: Prof. Rolf D. Reitz, who is an Emeritus Professor at UW-Madison, and my colleague and friend State of Wisconsin and UWM Distinguished Professor Pradeep K. Rohatgi, who started his career in the 1960s. While these ratings are a vanity fair, and it is much more important how your work contributes into the history of ideas, unfortunately, some people are not ready to talk with you about scientific ideas. And in that case formal ratings could help you to move forward.

While one should not overestimate the value of high citation, there is also the tendency to underestimate it, especially in the Midwest and particularly among people who do not publish much themselves. Despite that, citation is important, and many academics still value citation and productivity. When I visited the ITMO University in Russia, I was surprised to find the slogan “In H-index we trust” at ITMO – I made a selfie next to it.