One way of judging researchers' work is by looking at how often other researchers quote and cite them. Twenty researchers at three Utah universities ranked in the top 250 cited researchers in their disciplines, according to the website ISIHighlyCited.com.

"Citation is a direct measure of influence on the literature of a subject, and it is also a strong indicator of scientific contribution, since it is derived from a pattern of interaction among millions of published articles," the website explains. "When one researcher cites another's work, he or she is acknowledging the relevance of that work to the current study."

But comparing the number of one researcher's citation count against another's in a different discipline doesn't indicate the relative value of the research. For example, if you compare the physical sciences to the life sciences, life sciences will have higher citation numbers — probably because that area has more scientists and thus more research and papers and journals.

The "highly cited researchers" in Utah, according to ISIHighlyCited.com, are:

Brigham Young University with three researchers on the list: Jerald S. Bradshaw and Reed M. Izatt in chemistry and Keith A. Crandall in ecology/environment.

University of Utah with 16 researchers on the list: Peter B. Armentrout in chemistry; Russell W. Belk in economics/business; Thure E. Cerling in geosciences; Phyllis D. Coley and James Ehleringer in ecology/environment; Gerald J. Gleich in immunology/clinical medicine; John B. Hibbs in immunology; Kirsten Hawkes in general social sciences; Lajos Horváth in mathematics; Jean-Marc Lalouel, Mark Leppert and Raymond White in molecular biology and genetics; Joel S. Miller and Anil V. Virkar in materials science; Timothy W. Smith in psychology/psychiatry; and John S. Sperry in plant and animal science.

Utah State University's Martyn M. Caldwell in ecology/environment.

The information used by ISIHighlyCited.com to calculate these rankings comes from the research articles in the Thomson Reuters Citation Databases. The current set of data includes citations from 1981 to 2007.

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