As it does every year, Stanford University has published the list of the 2% of the world's researchers who are most cited in articles by their colleagues in 2021. The American university draws up its ranking based on data from Scopus, a bibliographic database of abstracts and citations of scientific journal articles owned by Elsevier. The list includes around 200,000 researchers, and among them are four from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC): Xavier Bosch, Hug March, Gisela Grañena and Xavier Vilajosana.
"Citation indexes reflect the opinion of researchers specializing in the subject, so it's like an expert scientific audit. It's the best possible recognition of the work you've done," said Xavier Bosch, of the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO). As he pointed out, his team has done outstanding work in terms of its levels of production and recognition "in research on the human papillomavirus and cancer for years".
Bosch – who appears in the ranking in the field of Clinical Medicine – says that they published an article that received more than 3,000 citations, which "summarizes the arguments around the viral causality of cervical cancer in humans, and was considered the best synthesis of the state of the knowledge at that time". In 2021, Bosch won the Maurice Hilleman award for his contribution to the papillomavirus vaccine.
Another of the UOC researchers on the list of those most cited worldwide is Hug March. March is a member of the Faculty of Economics and Business, and a researcher in the Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory research group (TURBA Lab), at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3). As a researcher, his areas of expertise are urban studies, water management and urban political ecology to understand the different technological, socio-demographic and political-economic processes that influence socio-environmental governance.
According to March, who is listed in the field of Social Sciences, being included on the Stanford list means "raising the profile of my career in political ecology and recognition of its impact at an international academic level. It's also a collective recognition of the work done by the research group, the faculty and the UOC in the field of sustainability, and our contribution to the much needed ecological transition aimed at addressing our current socio-environmental challenges." Among his most widely cited articles is a study on smart city strategies in Barcelona from the perspective of political ecology.
Second language learning
Gisela Grañena, a researcher and member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, is included on this international list in the field of Communication and Textual Studies. With regard to her achievement, the TechSLA Lab leader said that "apart from the satisfaction of the recognition for the work done over many years, it is above all a responsibility involving a commitment to my field – second language acquisition – as well as a challenge to continue contributing and inspiring other researchers with high-quality, impactful research".
The overarching aim of Grañena's research is to understand how a second language is learned in formal and informal contexts, and to identify the most significant factors involved. Her publications include articles on the age factor and the acquisition of Spanish among bilingual Spanish and Chinese speakers living in Spain.
Communication between devices
"Beside the number itself, which may have a relative value, I am proud to be included among the many other scientists who appear on the list. The ones I know are people who have made very important scientific contributions, and most of them are pioneers in their fields," said Professor Xavier Vilajosana.
Vilajosana, who appears in the ranking as an expert in Information and Communication Technologies, coordinates the Wireless Networks (WINE) research group at the IN3, which works on the study and development of technologies to improve how electronic and digital devices capture and communicate information. He is an author of internet standards: between 2018 and 2022, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an open standards body, published several documents he put forward to standardize control of low-rate wireless networks. His scientific publications also include an article written with colleagues in the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications, which has been cited more than 1,300 times.
Although citations remain important, since 2018 and the introduction of its Open Knowledge Action Plan, the UOC has been committed to the qualitative assessment of research. As part of the plan, the university was one of the signatory institutions of the San Francisco Declaration (DORA) in 2019. This declaration aims to assess research based on its quality and impact, not just its citations.
Likewise, last year the UOC was one of the universities that established the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), an international agreement signed by research organizations, funding bodies, authorities and assessment agencies, associations of research organizations, scientific societies and other leading institutions who are working together to improve research assessment practices.
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
Over 500 researchers and more than 50 research groups work in the UOC's seven faculties, its eLearning Research programme and its two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
Open knowledge and the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu.