UCSC Review Winter 1997
Physics ranks highly in national analysis of citation rates
Scientific papers published in the 1980s and early 1990s by UCSC physicists were among the most highly regarded in the country, according to a recent study.
The Physics Department ranked seventh for the "citation impact" of papers published between 1981 and 1994. Some analysts view this measure--the average number of citations per paper--as the most objective way to gauge the quality of a department's research.
When researchers publish a journal article, they must cite previous papers by other authors that set the stage for their work. Generally, a paper earns more citations when scientists accept the work as important and well done.
Physicists at Tulane University compiled the statistics and published their results in the October 1996 issue of Physics Today. They claimed that other methods to rank departments, such as a major National Research Council (NRC) study released in 1995, overlook the high-quality research often done at relatively small universities. The NRC surveyed researchers across the country to rank the reputations of departments in numerous disciplines.
UCSC has also fared well in broader analyses of citation rankings. For example, the campus placed third among U.S. universities for the citation impact of papers published between 1981 and 1991 in all physical-science disciplines, trailing only Harvard and Princeton.