Citation Rankings of Philosophers Based on Scopus Data (updated)


A database of information regarding citations of researchers has been updated, and now includes information about the citation rates of researchers, including philosophers, through 2020.

Version 3” of the “Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators,” using data from Scopus, the abstract and citation database from publisher Elsevier, includes information through 2020.

The authors of the report, Jeroen Baas, Kevin Boyack, and John P.A. Ioannidis, write:

Citation metrics are widely used and misused. We have created a publicly available database of over 100,000 top-scientists that provides standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions and a composite indicator. Separate data are shown for career-long and single year impact. Metrics with and without self-citations and ratio of citations to citing papers are given. Scientists are classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields. Field- and subfield-specific percentiles are also provided for all scientists who have published at least 5 papers. Career-long data are updated to end-of-2020. The selection is based on the top 100,000 by c-score (with and without self-citations) or a percentile rank of 2% or above.

Below are the philosophers from within that selection ordered by total number of citations over the course of their career through the end of 2020.

[UPDATE 1: There appear to be a number of philosophers and philosophical works not counted or undercounted in Scopus. See some of the comments for details. Feel free to note additional omissions. Also see Update 2, below.]

Below is the ordering for just the year 2020:

I am informed that Scopus misses quite a bit of philosophy, so do take the foregoing with a grain of salt. As others have pointed out, many familiar names are absent from these lists. If someone has a good explanation of why, please share it.

You can check out the data yourself here.

UPDATE 2: In a comment below, Shaun Gallagher offers a possible explanation for why certain expected names are missing from or lower on these lists. An excerpt:

Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators. PLoS Biol 18(10) classifies according to primary and secondary disciplines when appropriate. This results in some odd classifications. Andy Clark, John Searle, Dan Dennett and I are listed in precisely the same disciplines and in the same order of disciplines—we are all listed with a first discipline of experimental psychology, and a second discipline of philosophy—likely because most of our citations are by researchers in experimental fields. In the list published above I think the specific rankings for fields are provided only for the first field. That may be why Dennett, etc. are missing.

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GradStudent28
1 month ago

Perhaps I’ve been grossly mislead about who the most prominent figures in our discipline are, but at first glance this list strikes me as so wildly inaccurate that I’m genuinely surprised the authors saw fit to publish it. To pick out just two examples, Karl Popper being ranked 83rd and Michel Foucault being ranked 65th indicate pretty clearly that something went badly wrong in terms of data collection.Report

Royal Vizier
Royal Vizier
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

Something is wildly off. Most of the main figures in ethics, social, and political philosophy haven’t made the list.Report

Mark Wilson
Reply to  Royal Vizier
1 month ago

That likely just indicates that there is something wrong with identifying the index in question too closely with a broad measure of philosophical excellence. I certainly wouldn’t want to say that there is no correlation – but there are definitely many head-scratchers of the form ‘how on earth could X be ranked higher than Y?’

Of course, out of good manners I won’t give the instances of X and Y that really baffled me, but there are many.Report

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark Wilson
Marc Bobro
Reply to  Royal Vizier
1 month ago

And not just in ethics, social, and political philosophy. I don’t see Robert Merrihew Adams, Daniel Garber, Frank Jackson, Ted Sider, Catherine Wilson, Dean Zimmerman, just to list five well-known philosophers who specialize in other fields. I also searched for an internationally known professor of psychology, Paul Abramson, and didn’t find him either. Report

Michel
Reply to  Marc Bobro
1 month ago

Sider is #47.Report

Neil Levy
Reply to  Michel
1 month ago

Again, there’s nothing mysterious here. I’m continually shocked by how the citations are for many excellent philosophers working on mainstream philosophical issues. You can be a big name in philosophy and have relatively few citations. Philosophy is small, so that those who do more interdisciplinary work get more citations (ceteris paribus) than those who work in ‘core’ areas. Compounding this, philosophy has different – less generous – citation practices. So any citation ranking is going to diverge from a prestige within philosophy ranking.Report

GradStudent28
Reply to  Neil Levy
1 month ago

What’s “mysterious” is that this list claims that (e.g.) Mark Schroeder, Crispin Wright, and David Velleman all have more total citations than Michel Foucault, which is obviously false.Report

Neil Levy
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

Is it false *with reference to the journals Scopus indexes*? It’s not obvious to this Foucault scholar.Report

GradStudent28
Reply to  Neil Levy
1 month ago

Even if we assume it is true with reference to the journals Scopus indexes, if their index is so incomplete and biased it produces rankings like this I really don’t see the point in publishing their citation data for philosophers. You don’t even get a roughly accurate picture of who the most cited philosophers of the 20th & 21st centuries are by taking this list as a starting point.Report

Neil Levy
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

Might be good for philosophers working in certain subfields. For most, scholar remains best (WoS seems worse wrt philosophy).Report

David Velleman
David Velleman
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

FWIW, I was shocked to find myself on the list at all. I think I would know if I was cited that frequently.Report

Michel
Reply to  Neil Levy
1 month ago

I wasn’t saying it’s weird that Sider is #47. I was saying that he *is* listed; Marc just missed his name.Report

ehz
ehz
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

It seems that Scopus is indeed very misleading. Here are some examples. Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies has only 48 citations on Scopus, 40 of them are after 2017. On Google Scholar, the book has nearly 14000 citations.

It also seems that many books are missing. John Rawls’s profile doesn’t include A Theory of Justice. Timothy Williamson’s is missing Knowledge and its Limits. Saul Kripke’s is missing Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.Report

someone you don't know
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

I agree that there are problems, but in case this is a comparative claim: Foucault is widely cited across the humanities and social sciences. While I assume scientists cite Popper (my experience is he is often the only philosopher they know anything about), I doubt they do as often. (I wasn’t sure if you thought they were too low ranked, or too high ranked, if it wasn’t a comparative claim.)Report

Sam Duncan
Reply to  GradStudent28
1 month ago

I struggle to see why you think this is “wildly inaccurate.” Foucault is widely cited in the humanities and social sciences. He’s much more influential than many darlings of analytic philosophy, whether you like that or not. I’m honestly surprised that he doesn’t score more highly. Popper gets a lot of ink too in a number of fields outside philosophy like political theory and classics, though much of it is critical. (Most Plato or Hegel scholars take his readings of those guys to be stupid to the level of being cartoons, but most also feel they have to mention Popper if only to point that out). My one question is about what criteria were used to exclude dead philosophers? If there weren’t some such criteria I don’t know how say Wittgenstein and Heidegger wouldn’t be in the top ten or how Rawls and Nozick wouldn’t top Habermas. But how can Foucault and Lewis get in if there is some such criterion consistently applied?Report

Another grad student
Another grad student
Reply to  Sam Duncan
1 month ago

They’re not saying Foucault shouldn’t be on the list or lower than Popper, they just gave them as examples of people who should be higher on the list. You read too much into the choice of examples.Report

GradStudent28
Reply to  Sam Duncan
1 month ago

As “Another grad student” points out, I was clearly implying that the list is inaccurate because of how *low* Foucault and Popper are ranked relative to many “darlings of analytic philosophy” that appear in the top 50. Like everyone else, I’m well aware of how influential Foucault is.Report

Kenny Easwaran
1 month ago

It seems notable to me that the vast majority of philosophers on this list are still living, and that dead people seem to appear far lower on this list than one would expect – with the exception of David Lewis being right near the top. I had forgotten seeing Lewis’s name at the top, so when I got to Donald Davidson at #33 I at first assumed he had somehow snuck onto a list that only intended to include the living. (There might be a few other people above him on the list that I didn’t know had died.) Seeing Putnam and Quine on the list, but way far down suggests something similar.

If this list is representing something like the current influence of the work of these authors, it seems strange to see Davidson so much higher than Putnam, but if it’s past influence then it’s surprising to see them both as so low.

It’s an interesting list to look at, to try to figure out what’s going on in the “mind” of the algorithm, the same way it’s interesting to look at Google’s “deep dream” image algorithms and try to figure out why it’s seeing so many chihuahua heads in everything. There definitely is something recognizable going on, even if it’s not what you or I would think.Report

Neil Levy
1 month ago

I don’t think the rankings and its oddities are all that mysterious. Scopus is heavily biased toward the sciences. That means the rankings are good, at most, only for certain purposes.

Here’s some data.
https://harzing.com/popbook/ch16_2_2.htmReport

Stephen Turner
1 month ago

Scopus has an address problem– you can have several identities. Many of these institutaional affiliations are wrong, which is a sign of the problem. In any case it is less book oriented than google scholar, which is more relevant to philosophy.Report

Richard Zach
1 month ago

I don’t think Rudolf Carnap was ever at Michigan State University.Report

Mark Alfano
1 month ago

I’d you delve into the details, you can control for number of Co-authors and also check secondary fields. My guess is that eg Foucault will rank very high in another field. These are inevitable drawbacks of these sorts of ranking and categorizing tasks. Shout out to Thi Nguyen on value capture.Report

Melchor Ocampo
1 month ago

This list is only bullshit. A way of autocelebration by the establishment that controls the channels of publication and the universities power positions. There si a Lot of other philosophy worlds out there, other idioms and languages, and other much more important publications than yours.Report

Shaun Gallagher
1 month ago

One might wonder where Dan Dennett is on this list. Or Andy Clark, or John Searle. The original study (Ioannidis JPA, Boyack KW, Baas J (2020). Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators. PLoS Biol 18(10): https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000918)
classifies according to primary and secondary disciplines when appropriate. This results in some odd classifications. Andy Clark, John Searle, Dan Dennett and I are listed in precisely the same disciplines and in the same order of disciplines – we are all listed with a first discipline of experimental psychology, and a second discipline of philosophy – likely because most of our citations are by researchers in experimental fields. In the list published above I think the  specific rankings for fields are provided only for the first field. That may be why Dennett, etc. are missing. In the first field of experimental psychology Clark is ranked #105, I am ranked #154; Searle is ranked #233; Dennett is ranked #562. If these philosophers had been listed with philosophy as their first field, where would they appear in the philosophy rankings?Report

Allen Buchanan
Allen Buchanan
Reply to  Shaun Gallagher
1 month ago

It might be interesting to compare this list with Google Scholar Citations. I found the list astonishing.Report

Lisa S.
1 month ago

FWIW a few months ago I was asked by someone working with the VPR at my institution to compare my CV with the SCOPUS record of my publications. 22 publications (out of 40) were omitted from SCOPUS. The most important (and indeed impactful) of my publications was not included (and is listed in Google Scholar). The majority of other items that are missing are chapters in edited volumes (from major scholarly presses — Routledge, Cambridge, De Guyter, etc, and in most cases peer-reviewed), but there are also some articles in peer reviewed journals, at least one of which is highly prestigious (ie Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy). No encyclopedia articles are counted (not included in the 22/40 above).Report

Double A
1 month ago

Some things are better left undone. This is one such thing.Report

Galen Strawson
Galen Strawson
Reply to  David Bourget
1 month ago

never been to this site! your list obviously more plausible for philosophy—but obviously weighted towards those who have been publishing longer—could one divide through by the number of years of publishing [would need date of first philosophy paper] … Dave C. might go to the top. I wonder what a ranking by number of mentions in the Stanford Encyclopedia would look like. I don’t know whether this can be generated?Report

Chris
Chris
Reply to  Galen Strawson
1 month ago
David Bourget
Reply to  Galen Strawson
1 month ago

never been? you’re missing out! we don’t have a per-year-of-career option, but you can also restrict citations to recent works to get a sense of who is being widely cited these days.Report

Laurent
1 month ago

Carnap, Quine, and Rorty are all ranked between 170 and 200…Report

john.fischer@ucr.edu
1 month ago

I now plan to have this on my tombstone: “JMF was cited more than Derek Parfit.” (in Scopus, but that will be omitted–to expensive to chisel…)Report