Western stands atop Canada – and among only a handful of universities around the world – on a list of the fastest-rising institutions in producing scientific research papers, according to rankings released today by Nature Index.
“These are the ones to watch – movers and shakers, as the fastest-rising institutions,” the Index wrote in introducing its 2019 rankings list. Judges noted that Western’s national and international research collaborations in recent years helped drive its appearance.
“While we cannot rely too heavily on external rankings, it’s always nice to be recognized for our research community’s success,” said Sarah Prichard, Acting Vice-President (Research). “In this case, it’s particularly rewarding to see how often our researchers are collaborating with others to enhance the impact of their work around the world.”
The Nature Index identifies institutions’ authorship and co-authorship in 82 high-quality peer-reviewed science journals.
Western’s ‘fractional count’ – a formula derived from the percentage of authors from an institution and the number of affiliated institutions/co-authorships per article - showed the highest increase among Canadian schools between 2015-18.
From June 2018 to May 2019 alone, Western researchers published 136 articles in those 82 journals, in chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences, and earth and environmental sciences including ones:
- Detailing the discovery of a supermassive black hole through the M87 Event Horizon telescope;
- Outlining a connection between exercise and memory in Alzheimer’s mouse models;
- Linking testosterone levels to male demand for luxury goods;
- Discovering a planetesimal in a debris disc orbiting a dwarf star; and
- Discovering patterns in brain signals in minimally conscious patients.
During that same timeframe, those published articles included collaborations with institutions across the country, including the University of Toronto, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Calgary and Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics.
International collaborations were marked by work with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, NASA, University of Cambridge, Northwestern University (China) and University of Mons (Belgium).
In its rankings, the Index noted Western’s 12 faculties with 1,396 full-time staff and a research budget of more than $225 million in 2017. It also identified “robust investment” in public/private partnerships and infrastructure, including biomedical imaging and high-performance computing at the Brain and Mind Institute.
The ranking also nodded to Western for “telling its stories well” as its papers created a buzz among peers by being highly cited as well as among the general public through traditional and social media outlets.
Rounding out the fastest-growing list was the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; Princeton University; Institute for Basic Science (South Korea); University of Münster (Germany); Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (Japan); and Queensland University of Technology (Australia).
Nature Research is the world’s largest group of journals showcasing the best peer-reviewed science in research, reviews and analysis. Its main site has more than nine million readers each month.
The Index also identified Harvard University researchers as the most prolific in the world, with 2,371 articles published in 2018. The University of Toronto was identified as the most prolific in Canada.