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In a 2016 report on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), based on data from the Web of Science™, Derwent World Patents Index, and other Clarivate Analytics resources, Malaysia distinguished itself among its regional neighbors.

Although not the most prolific nor the highest in terms of impact in the region, Malaysia produced a striking increase in its output of scientific publications between 2006 and 2015. In fact, Malaysia’s increase of nearly 500% in its research volume over that decade surpassed that of all the other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, the influence of research from Malaysia-based authors is also on an upward trajectory: The overall relative citation impact of Malaysian research surpassed the world baseline in 2015.

Another marker of Malaysia’s progress can be seen in its production of papers that register as the most influential in their respective fields. These reports, officially designated by Clarivate Analytics as Highly Cited Papers, rank among the top 1% most cited of all papers published in their given year and subject category. Malaysia’s annual store of such papers grew 12-fold in the last decade, from a mere 12 papers in 2006 to 144 top papers in 2015. Aside from reports in particle physics, in which Malaysian researchers participate as part of a large international collaborative group, the country’s Highly Cited Papers focus on biodiesel production and energy-consumption policies. This reflects the importance of energy security and biofuels in the Malaysian economy. Malaysian scientists have also produced highly cited works on the subject of graphene, a lightweight material with a variety of potential applications in areas such as electronics, medicine and energy.

Malaysia has an ambitious Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) Plan, part of which includes establishing a scientific and progressive society. The growth in research output and performance is a step toward that goal. The impressive results by Malaysia coincide with its strong economic growth between 2005 and 2014 when the country’s GDP more than doubled from $US162 billion to $US338 billion.

To mark the nation’s increasing presence in world science, Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, presented the second annual “Malaysia Rising Star Awards” to a select group of researchers. Like last year’s honorees, these 2016 Rising Stars have already shown significant promise in publishing work that has proved to be influential with their worldwide peers.

On the Frontier

As with the 2015 awards, the data for the Malaysia’s Rising Star Award 2016 is based on scientific papers indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection between 2011 and 2015. Additional metrics are drawn from two Clarivate Analytics tools for tracking and benchmarking research performance: InCites™ and Essential Science IndicatorsSM (ESI).

InCites is a customized, web-based research evaluation tool that allows institutions to analyze their institutional productivity and benchmark their performance against peers worldwide. ESI is a compilation of performance statistics and trends extrapolated from counts of articles published in scholarly journals, and the citations to those articles indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection. For exemple, ESI identifies the world’s top 1% Highly Cited Papers (articles and reviews) in 21 broad research fields.

The 14 awardees for 2016 were selected by a steering committee appointed by MOHE. This year’s awards are presented in three categories.

For the ‘Frontier Researcher” category, analysis turned to the “research fronts” derived from Web of Science data, based on automated tracking of citation patterns. A research front is formed when a foundational group of highly cited “core” papers are frequently cited together by later papers, indicating a tightly specialized area of investigation. A front consists of the core group as well as the later papers that collectively cite the core.

Analysts combed the research fronts for Malaysia-based authors who made principal contributions to the core literature in any given front as of May 2016. Based on this analysis, five of this year’s awardees were identified: four in the ESI field of Engineering, one in Agricultural Sciences.

The second category, honoring “Young Researchers,” specified Malaysian nationals working in Malaysia, aged 40 years and under as of January 1, 2016. Analysis centered on authors who met those criteria and who published multiple papers – articles or proceedings papers reporting original results, as opposed to reviews – ranking among the top 5% most cited for the years 2011 to 2015. On that basis, five names were selected in the Young Researchers category.

Last, a “Highly Cited Review” category recognized Malaysian authors who contributed highly cited review articles – widely useful papers that summarize and explain research in a given area. After consulting ESI for review papers that ranked among the top 1% most cited, analysis was focused on Malaysia-based authors of such papers. One further criterion stipulated that the author must also have contributed to at least one Highly Cited Paper.

By that method, four authors were selected for the Highly Cited Review award.

To view the full list of 2016 Malaysia’s Rising Star Award recipients, visit the MOHE Facebook page.