Journal of Data and Information Science ›› 2021, Vol. 6 ›› Issue (2): 28-40.doi: 10.2478/jdis-2021-0016

• Research Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

“Sparking” and “Igniting” Key Publications of 2020 Nobel Prize Laureates

Fangjie Xi1, Ronald Rousseau2,3, Xiaojun Hu1,()   

  1. 1Medical Information Center, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310058, China
    2Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Antwerp, Middelheimlaan 2, 2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
    3Centre for R&D Monitoring (ECOOM) and Dept. MSI, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 61, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
    4Department of Neurology of Affiliated Hospital 2, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310009, China
  • Received:2021-01-19 Accepted:2021-02-07 Online:2021-05-20 Published:2021-03-31
  • Contact: Xiaojun Hu


Purpose: This article aims to determine the percentage of “Sparking” articles among the work of this year's Nobel Prize winners in medicine, physics, and chemistry.
Design/methodology/approach: We focus on under-cited influential research among the key publications as mentioned by the Nobel Prize Committee for the 2020 Noble Prize laureates. Specifically, we extracted data from the Web of Science, and calculated the Sparking Indices using the formulas as proposed by Hu and Rousseau in 2016 and 2017. In addition, we identified another type of igniting articles based on the notion in 2017.
Findings: In the fields of medicine and physics, the proportions of articles with sparking characteristics share 78.571% and 68.75% respectively, yet, in chemistry 90% articles characterized by “igniting”. Moreover, the two types of articles share more than 93% in the work of the Nobel Prize included in this study.
Research limitations: Our research did not cover the impact of topic, socio-political, and author's reputation on the Sparking Indices.
Practical implications: Our study shows that the Sparking Indices truly reflect influence of the best research work, so it can be used to detect under-cited influential articles, as well as identifying fundamental work.
Originality/value: Our findings suggest that the Sparking Indices have good applicability for research evaluation.

Key words: Sparking Indices, Sparking fundamental research, Igniting fundamental research, Nobel Prize laureates, Under-cited influential research