IWH scientists on Stanford University’s list of world’s top 2% of scientists


For more than 30 years, the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) has been internationally recognized as a producer of excellent, relevant research that focuses on improving the health, safety and participation of working people. Indeed, the Institute’s ongoing commitment to research excellence is reflected in the IWH Strategic Plan 2023-2027 with its focus on advancing the science of work and health.

The Institute’s commitment to research excellence and scientific leadership in the area of work and health is borne out in the current list of most-cited scientists, published by Stanford University (doi:10.17632/btchxktzyw.6). The list, released October 2023 based on journal articles published up to the end of 2022, includes three current IWH senior scientists—Dr. Dorcas Beaton, Dr. Monique Gignac, and Dr. Peter Smith—IWH scientist Dr. Andrea Furlan, as well as former president and IWH adjunct scientist Dr. Cameron Mustard.

At the Institute for Work & Health, we are dedicated to excellence in how we conduct our research. This excellence enables our stakeholders to know that work produced by IWH is of the highest quality, is independent and can be trusted, says Smith, current IWH president.

To have five IWH scientists out of a relatively small scientific corps included in this list of the world’s most cited scientists—it’s a tremendous honour. It’s very gratifying to see our focus on scientific excellence and rigour being internationally recognized among our academic peers, he adds.

The publicly available list was first released in 2019 by Dr. John Ioannidis (and is updated about once a year). It considers the academic output of over nine million researchers across the world, and includes the top two per cent most cited researchers in each of 22 scientific fields and 176 scientific sub-fields (an approach that recognizes differences in citation levels across disciplines). The systematic ranking is based on six citation metrics, which provide a measure of a researcher’s impact in the academic community. (These are: total citations; Hirsch h-index; co-authorship-adjusted Schreiber hm-index; number of citations to papers as single author; number of citations to papers as single or first author; and number of citations to papers as single, first or last author.)

The ranking method can favour more senior scientists, both because they tend to have more papers published, and because older papers tend to collect more citations, notes Gignac, scientific director at the Institute. She adds, though, that paper citations are only one measure of impact.

At IWH, we don’t see academic impact as the only important impact of our research. In fact, we put just as much stock—if not more—into the impact that our research has outside academia, such as in policy circles and front-line practice, says Gignac, pointing to the Institute’s stories of impact that showcase the sharing, uptake and use of IWH research by stakeholders at the worker, workplace and system levels.

Smith notes the presence on the list of other work and health scientific leaders in Ontario’s prevention system. These include Dr. Paul Demers, director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre; Dr. Linn Holness, director of the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease; and Dr. Jack Callaghan, director of the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders.

This is a reminder of how fortunate we are to be working within a high-calibre work and health ecosystem here in Ontario, says Smith. Likewise, it’s a tremendous benefit to policy-makers and employers in the province that they have access to the most recognized researchers in work and health in the world to help them tackle challenges here at home.

This article has been corrected since it first appeared. It has been amended to add a name that was omitted from the original article.