Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Fun - Superlative Publishers

Who's got the highest total # of published papers among living synthetic chemists?

Criteria: The person runs a group that makes things - sorry, no theorists this round - and works principally in some sub-field of synthetic chemistry (organic, organometallic, inorganic, photochem, med-chem, polymers, etc). 

I opened the discussion up on Twitter this morning, and used SciFinder, backed up with [cough] group websites that often need updating [cough]. 

Here's the list, as of 10:00 CST...

(All counts rounded to nearest 100 for convenience. SciFinder is an imperfect metric, since it includes abstracts and some duplicate entries. Please refer to caveats, below, for more detail.)

Alan Katritzky: 2,200 website; 2600 SciFinder

Robert S. Langer: 2000 SciFinder
George Whitesides: 1,200 website; 1900 SciFinder
Leo Paquette: 1500 SciFinder
*E. J. Corey: 1,000 website; 1500 SciFinder
J. Fraser Stoddart: 1,000 website; 1400 SciFinder
Tobin J. Marks: 1,000 website, 1600 SciFinder
Paul v. Rague Schleyer: 1,300 website; 1600 SciFinder
Jean Frechet: 800 website; 1300 SciFinder
Irina Beletskaya: 1300 SciFinder
Barry Trost: 900 website; 1200 SciFinder
K.C. Nicolaou: 700 website; 1200 SciFinder
D. Reinhoudt: 1200 SciFinder
J. S. Yadav: 1,000 website; 1200 SciFinder
Ben Feringa: 1100 SciFinder
J-M. Lehn: 1100 SciFinder
E.W. "Bert" Meijer: 1000 SciFinder
Robert "Bob" Grubbs: 1000 SciFinder
Virgil Percec: 1000 SciFinder
Samuel "Sam" Danishefsky: 700 website; 1000 SciFinder
Ryoji Noyori: 800 SciFinder
Steven Ley: 900 SciFinder
Amos B. Smith: 900 SciFinder
James Tour: 500 website; 900 SciFinder
Stuart Scheiber: 500 website; 800 SciFinder
Karen Wooley: 700 SciFinder
Peter Langer: 700 SciFinder
Carolyn Bertozzi: 700 SciFinder
Jean'ne M. Shreeve: 500 website; 700 SciFinder
JoAnn Stubbe: 600 SciFinder
John Hartwig: 300 website; 600 SciFinder
K. Barry Sharpless: 600 SciFinder
Jacqueline Barton: 300 website; 600 SciFinder
Gautam Desiraju: 500 SciFinder
J.K.M. Sanders: 500 SciFinder
Ted Taylor: 500 SciFinder
Laura Kiessling: 400 SciFinder
M. Joullie: 400 SciFinder
Cynthia Burrows: 300 SciFinder
Melanie Sanford: 200 SciFinder

(Update: 1PM - Added Tobin Marks, Virgil Percec. 6PM - Added top-author women chemists. 7PM - Added Frechet, Desiraju, Sanders. 12AM 6/1 - Added Shreeve, Beletskaya)

Some caveats: I know it's folly to attempt correlating total publication count : scientific 'genius.'
If you only publish one paper, but you cure a major disease or invent a top-selling polymer additive, you're doing just fine! 

Also, I note that not everyone agrees that folks on this list belong in the "synthetic chemist" bucket - see ScienceGeist's (noted) exceptions here. (Update: P-O. Norrby noted another exception...)

Importantly, graduate students shouldn't feel down and out about this list. You can have a perfectly fine career with just a handful of papers; these superstars are the exception rather than the rule.

Curious thought: Publications in large synthetic groups certainly seem to follow a power law** - it takes ~15 years to get those first 100 papers, then about 8 for 100 more, and then the pace picks up dramatically. Presumably, this represents added hands and minds, along with building respect and excitement for one's work. I don't know how many other factors (prizes, location, grants, "buzz") are involved, but they probably belong to another post.

Readers, what say you? Have another person I've missed on the list?

*Who knew E.J. pwned (show of hands?) I think I smell a fantastic cyber-squatting campaign, anyone?

**An example we discussed on Twitter: Phil Baran. It took him 15 yrs (1997-2011) to get 100 pubs. Next 25 or so have only taken 2 yrs. If power law holds, he'll have >400 pubs by age 50.


  1. Tobin J. Marks, 1402 scifinder, >1000 by website count

  2. Paul Schleyer 1249 by website count

  3. John Gladysz lists over 400 on his web site.

  4. I don't have Sci Finder, but:
    Paul Knochel lists roughly 550 papers on his website, but stops in 2010... Reaxys credits him with 560
    Matthias Beller has 550 on his website (stops in 2012) (+100 patents...), Reaxys 590

  5. Regarding M. Sanford, on her (recently updated) CV she counts 98 papers and 5 book chapters, which is already great for a young professor, but not the 200 SciFinder apparently gives.

  6. The Iron ChemistJune 12, 2013 12:37 PM

    Lippard and Holm are notable absentees for the synthetic inorganickers. Solomon would also be someone to include.

  7. Great work!
    You're also missing Galen D. Stucky at UCSB

  8. Chris Walsh, over 556 as of 2006 on web site.

    1. He claimed #700 at his retirement banquet (and 701 shortly there after), though I wouldn't claim him as a "synthetic chemist"

  9. Peter Wipf. CV ~350 excluding reviews. >500 on SciFinder

  10. George Christou has 535 according to his website. Last updated in June 2013.

  11. In terms of pretty important organometallic/inorganic chemists: Richard Schrock with 800 SciFinder, 550 website

  12. Stephen Hanessian ~500 according to his website

  13. Francois Diederich >660

  14. Al Padwa should be up there somewhere

  15. Gerry Pattenden? Jack Baldwin?

  16. Alan Cowley >500 on his website.

    Bob West will be >500 too.

  17. Alan Fersht has a few