New Nature report looks at institutions’ research in patent citations

Case Western Reserve University ranks 18th in the world in a new listing of institutions based on their contributions to innovation.

The results in Nature Index 2017 Innovation, a supplement to the esteemed multidisciplinary journal Nature, ordered universities and institutes based on citations of their research articles in other organizations’ patent documents.

The top tiers of the “Innovation Tables” that Nature released yesterday includes some of the world’s most prominent academic institutions, among them the third-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the eighth-ranked University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and ninth-ranked Stanford University. But it also contains less globally prominent places, among them the University of Massachusetts Medical School (fourth) and Yeshiva University (15th).

As Nature explained in a news release, the leaders on these tables include those known for “high-quality research” as well as “others whose published work is having a disproportionately high impact relative to their size.”

Case Western Reserve, for example, bested several universities with dramatically higher annual budgets and research expenditures, among them the Duke (27th), Johns Hopkins (30th) and the University of Pennsylvania (43rd).

“These results are a testament to the intellect, ingenuity and dedication of Case Western Reserve’s faculty,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “I congratulate our professors—and all of the staff and students who assist in their work—on this well-deserved recognition.”

The rankings were determined through a longer-term assessment of contributions to publications, as well a look at the most recent year.

The metric used to assess institutions’ contributions to innovation comes from The Lens, a joint initiative of an Australian nonprofit institute, Cambia, and Queensland University of Technology. Richard Jefferson, the founder of The Lens, explained in a release that the metric assists in “mapping the influence and role of academic science in the innovation ecosystem.”

The Lens’ metric covers articles published between 1980 and 2015. David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index, explained in a statement that adding tables drawn from The Lens answered government and public funding agencies’ increasing “need to demonstrate that publicly funded science is being used for society’s benefit…”

The new “Innovation Tables” augment the Nature Index, an effort that the publishing organization began in 2014 to help track the authors and institutions contributing most to 68 of the world’s most highly respected natural science journals. The index provides a 12-month “rolling” window that allows users to search by subjects, institutions and individual authors.

The 2016 article involving Case Western Reserve authors that drew the most attention—as measured by Altmetric scores—during that time period explored approaches to make immunology studies involving mice more relevant to understanding potential results in humans. The article involved authors from five institutions, including Ali Filali-Mouhim and Rafick P. Sekaly from this campus.