Finnish cancer research now the best in the world

When measured in terms of the average number of citations per article, Finnish cancer research is now the best not only in Europe, but also in the world.

Europe’s fifth most-cited cancer researcher is Academy Professor Kari Alitalo from the University of Helsinki.

An analysis conducted by the journal Lab Times indicates that, when measured in terms of the number of citations per scientific article, Finnish cancer research is the best not only in Europe, but also in the world. Lab Times’ cancer research analysis covers publications from 1998–2009.

In terms of the total number of citations, countries that publish a high volume of articles took the lead. Europe’s top three were Germany, England and Italy, with Finland in eleventh place.

However, when measured in terms of the number of citations per article, Finland shot into the lead in Europe. And not only that – Finland was the only European country to beat the USA.

Articles published by Finnish cancer researchers were cited an average of 26.4 times during the period in question, compared to 22.4 times for US researchers. In this comparison, Switzerland rose to second place in Europe with an average of 21.7 citations per article. The Netherlands came in third (21.4) and Sweden in fourth (21.2).

When comparing countries, only those articles that were published in specialist cancer research journals were included. This means that articles published in top multidisciplinary journals, such as Nature and Science, were not included in the analysis. In spite of this, the analysts believe that their analysis provides a reasonably reliable picture of different countries’ productivity in the field of cancer research.

Academy Professor Kari Alitalo was the fifth most-quoted European cancer researcher with 26,358 citations to his name. This put him behind Professor Guido Kroemer from the Paris Descartes University, Professors Richard Peto and Adrian L. Harris from Oxford University, and Professor Josef Penninger from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) in Vienna.

When analysing the number of personal citations, all of the researchers’ published articles on cancer research were taken into consideration, including those published in multidisciplinary journals.

The analysts say that, especially when analysing personal citations, it was difficult to define what constitutes cancer research, as cancer research is closely connected to many other biomedical disciplines.

The articles states that, ‘The whole list of the most-cited heads nicely represents the wide variety of biomedical disciplines that make up “cancer research”: side by side, there are molecular, cell and developmental biologists, epidemiologists, clinical oncologists, biochemists, a toxicologist, immunologists, pathologists, haematologists ...’

When measured in terms of the number of citations per article, European cancer research clearly lags behind the USA. US cancer researchers were cited an average of 22.4 times per article, compared to 14.9 times for European researchers. Australia (21.5), Canada (20.8) and Japan (17.3) also beat Europe in this comparison. Finland was the only individual European country to beat the USA.

Watch a video about Kari Alitalo’s cancer research on the university’s YouTube channel »»

Lab Times: Cancer Research – Publication Analysis 1998 – 2009 »»

Tuhat Research Database: Kari Alitalo »»

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Text: Päivi Lehtinen
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Video: Nitro
8.3.2012
University of Helsinki, digital communications


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