It’s time for the annual Mocking of the Thomson session.
Yes, I’ve been at this for a while, but to no avail. My main point in all this is to make clear that I don’t believe that the Nobel prizes are chosen on the basis of citation count. Sure, there’s going to be a correlation between the two, but the causation is extremely weak. Thomson’s constant hawking of their “Citation Laureates” is, in my opinion, self-serving and wrong-headed.
And yes, they do get them right occasionally, but that’s because there is some correlation. They also occasionally pick someone a few years before they actually win — but that’s bound to happen too. Over time they’ll name as Citation Laureates a large number of scientists with big citation counts and over time since there is some correlation between citation counts and the Nobel, they’re just going guess a few correctly.
So let’s see what they’ve chosen this year for the list of Laureates:
- Michael Grätzel
- Jacqueline K. Barton, Bernd Giese and Gary B. Schuster
- Benjamin List
- Yakir Aharonov and Sir Michael V. Berry
- Juan Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller
- Sir John B. Pendry, Sheldon Schultz and David R. Smith
Physiology or Medicine
- Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak
- James E. Rothman and Randy Schekman
- Seiji Ogawa
- Ernst Fehr and Matthew J. Rabin
- William D. Nordhaus and Martin L. Weitzman
- John B. Taylor, Jordi Gali and Mark L. Gertler
Let’s see how they do this year. I predict about the same as previous years, in other words, pretty random. Some of the people they pick based on citation counts will be picked in the year Thomson guesses, some won’t. Some will get picked in a later year.
Twelve individual or group nominations for a total of 25 different people named. To be better than random, I’d say 25% of this year’s citation nominees (either by group or individuals) need to be correct. I’ll give half marks if some of this year’s Nobelists were citation winners in previous years.
Once again, I would like to emphasize that I have nothing against the scholars whom Thomson has “nominated” and wish them well. I certainly don’t mean to cast a negative light on their contributions to their fields at all. My beef is not with them, but with Thomson’s misuse of their citation data.