Topic Prominence in Science

We are expanding SciVal from being a purely evaluative and analytical tool to being an integral part of your research planning process. Topic Prominence in Science will revolutionize the way in which you develop your research strategy by giving you and your colleagues unique insight into identifying new, emerging research trends

You are now able to run a complete portfolio analysis to see which Topics your institution is currently active in, and which Topics have high momentum, those therefore more likely to be well-funded. It will provide insight into which researchers are active in those Topics, which Topics your peers and competitors are active in and the related Topics of which you should be aware.

Topics are ranked by Prominence, an indicator of the momentum of a particular field.

The development of Topic Prominence in Science is based upon extensive research and customer feedback. Unlike other research analytics solutions, which merely scratch the surface by only analyzing top-cited articles, we take the entire world of research into account. Our ground-breaking, new technology takes into consideration 95% of the articles available in ScopusTM and clusters them into nearly 97,000 global, unique research topics based on citation patterns.

Wheel flat infographic - Topic prominence in science | Elsevier

How can I use Topic Prominence in Science?

For research managers, who are trying to stay abreast of the latest research trends, Topic Prominence in Science can  help answer the following:

  • What are the pockets of well-funded research in our current research portfolio?
  • Who are the top performing researchers and upcoming talent active in those particular research Topics?
  • How can we show that our institution is particularly active and leading the way in a research field, which has a lot of momentum?
  • Which forward-momentum Topics are our peers and competitors currently active in?

As a researcher, Topic Prominence in Science provides you with a much clearer picture of your overall research performance, and insight into the momentum or level of activity of particular Topics. We can help you answer your most pressing research related questions:

  • Which are the Topics with high momentum, that are likely to be well-funded and thus have higher grant success rates?
  • Who else is active and publishing research in a similar Topic to mine, whom I could partner and co-author with?
  • What are some related Topics adjacent to mine with a lot of momentum, where I could focus my research attention?
Complete portfolio analysis infographic - SciVal | Elsevier

The Topic Prominence in Science wheel provides a clear and simple overview of the Topics in which your institution is the most active.
SciVal Topics table | Elsevier

All Scopus publications are clustered into Topics using direct citation analysis (as opposed to co-citation analysis).

Latest Releases

Define new Research Areas based on Topics

Combine Topics together to form a Research Area unique to your institution or departments, then analyze it to find out the top researchers and rising stars » Read more

Get an overview of the related Topics in the Trends module

When you analyze a Topic in the Trends module, you can also see the related Topics, matched by keyphrase. Unlike the papers that make up a Topic, Related Topics are not matched by citation relationships and therefore provide a new way to find key institutions and researchers for potential collaboration and learning opportunities » Read more

Export top 500 topics

As promised and based upon your feedback we are making updates to the newly released Topic Prominence in Science. You are now able to identify and export the top 500 most prominent Topics for your institution.

Analyze Topics at Researcher level

We support the needs of individual Researchers and Groups of Researchers to see which Topics they are the most active in, and who else is active in these Topics for potential collaboration. Researchers can now analyze their Topics in greater detail, to see their individual metrics such as FWCI, collaboration, views etc. (previously only available for Institutions, Countries and Worldwide) » Read more

Filter Topics by ASJC subject classification

The filter works slightly differently than in other areas of SciVal. Rather than filter the output of the institution or country, we are filtering the Topics. Topics can appear in multiple Subject Areas. All the Topics that appear when filtered have at least one output assigned to the selected Subject Area, but that output might not have been published by the institution (or country) you are viewing. The selected entity is however active in all these Topics » Read more

Globally prominent Topics

You are now able to get a global overview of the most prominent Topics globally by filtering on ‘World’ under Countries & Groups.

Representative publication

Get up to speed on Topics of interest, by viewing the top 10 most representative papers. As you know, there are over 97,000 unique Topics identified in SciVal, and each of those Topics consist of a cluster of several related articles. How can you familiarize yourself with and get an understanding of Topics with which you’re not familiar? We have now introduced ‘Representative Papers’ which are papers centrally cited, at the core of a particular Topic and will provide you with a deeper understanding of the Topic » Read more


2019 roadmap*

To give you a taste of what is to come, outlined below are some of the Roadmap items, which we will be working on:

  • New Topics released. New Topics will be added to SciVal (derived from existing Topics). Discover the top researchers and institutions in these Topics, along with information on which Topics these were derived from.
  • Higher aggregation levels – we will be introducing groupings of related Topics to help browsing and discovery and aiding higher level analysis.
  • Which Topics  are likely to attract funding? Tying Topics to specific funding opportunities.
  • Create Publication Sets and analyze the related Topics

*As with all Roadmaps it is an outline of future plans, and thus features and timings may change.


Methodology & underlying calculations

The creation of Topic Prominence in Science is based upon years of in-depth research and extensive customer feedback and testing SciVal’s product, UX and development teams.

Due to recent advances and improvements in quality of the underlying data, the development of better algorithms to cluster scientific papers and greater computing technology, we have now created a model which is much more accurate, and allows us to analyze all Scopus data at the same time.

The new methodology has been based upon the customer feedback, from current Competencies users. Unlike Competencies, Topics are:

  • Global. Topics allow for direct comparison of institutions and countries
  • Stable. Topics are based upon clustering 95% of Scopus articles (1996-2017), therefore Topics can grow over time and can split into new Topics, but will never disappear.
  • Supports trend detection.  Your analysis is no longer based upon a rolling five-year window, but now dates back to 1996

Should you have any questions regarding the replacement of Competencies and what it means for you, please don't hesitate to reach out to your sales representative, or contact our support team via email.

Contact us

What is a topic?

A Topic is a collection of documents with a common intellectual interest and can be large or small, new or old, growing or declining. Over time, new Topics will surface, and as Topics are dynamic they will evolve. As with the nature of today’s research landscape many Topics are multidisciplinary, and old Topics may be dormant but they still exist. In addition, researchers themselves are mobile, and work in various different research areas, and thereby contribute to multiple Topics.

What is prominence?

Calculating a Topic’s Prominence combines 3 metrics to indicate the momentum of the Topic:

  • Citation Count in year n to papers published in n and n-1
  • Scopus Views Count in year n to papers published in n and n-1
  • Average CiteScore for year n

Scopus publications are clustered into Topics based upon a direct citation analysis. As illustrated in the images below, where there is a weak citation link, there is a break and a new Topic is formed.

How does prominence relate to funding?

There is a correlation between the prominence (momentum) of a particular Topic and the amount of funding per author within that topic. On average, the higher the momentum, the more money per author is available for research on that Topic.

Prominence is a proxy for funding, which analyzes past funding patterns to predict future funding opportunities.

To prove this, SciTech Strategies assigned 314,000 grants worth $203 billion from the STAR METRICS database, a large project-level funding database that accounts for 24 percent of US federal funding, to all 97,000 Topics through textual similarity. The grant data were split into two time periods for each Topic and the correlation analyzed. The model showed that the correlation between Prominence and future funding is 0.616, thus Prominence accounts for 38% (or 0.6162) of the variance of future funding.

Kevin dots graphic | Elsevier

All Scopus publications are clustered into Topics using direct citation analysis (as opposed to co-citation analysis).
Colored Kevin dots graphic | Elsevier

The borders between clusters (Topics) are identified by looking at where the citation links are weak. Where the links are weak, the clusters are split into separate Topics.

Prominence does not signify 'Importance'

Due to the nature of certain research fields there are Topics which, will never become "Prominent", however this is not mutually exclusive with the Topic not being important. Prominence is an indicator of momentum/movement or visibility of a particular Topic.

Further reading & webinars

For further information regarding the methodology, how Prominence is calculated and assigned and other FAQs please see the following papers and documents:

Topic Prominence in Science FAQ (PDF, 621kb)
Compiled by Martin Andersson, Kevin Boyack and Richard Klavans

Research Portfolio Analysis and Topic Prominence
Richard Klavans and Kevin W. Boyack

Identifying Emerging Topics in Science and Technology
Henry Small, Kevin W. Boyack and Richard Klavans

Which Type of Citation Analysis Generates the Most Accurate Taxonomy of Scientific and Technical Knowledge?
Richard Klavans and Kevin W. Boyack

A New Methodology for Constructing a Publication-Level Classification System of Science
Ludo Waltman and Nees Jan van Eck

Top universities and researchers in perovskite solar cell research
In the first of a regular series looking at who is producing highly cited research in different areas, THE explores a subject currently deemed the ‘most prominent’ by Elsevier metrics

The dawn of predictive analytics to measure research performance: SciVal’s Topic Prominence
Elsevier Connect by Martin Edling Andersson

WEBINAR: Introduction to Topic Prominence in Science

WEBINAR: Advanced applications of Topic Prominence in Science

WEBINAR: Where am I a Key Contributor? & other Topic Prominence in Science developments