Ear, Nose & Throat Research

Publication Analysis 1998-2009
by Ralf Neumann, Labtimes 03/2011

Europe... ... and the World Most Cited Authors... ... and Papers

Most Cited Authors - Pictures

Germany dominates European ear, nose & throat research. The four most-cited papers are about head and neck cancer therapy, whereas the two most-cited authors study the genetics and physiology of olfaction and hearing.

When reading the headline “Ear, Nose & Throat Research” (ENT research), you might instantly be reminded of the medical discipline with arguably the most unpronounceable name: otorhinolaryngology. However, this branch of medicine that specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose, throat, and head and neck diseases certainly does not exclusively cover all the research into these organs.

After all, these organs provide us with three of our classical five senses – hearing, smell and taste. Therefore, a whole bunch of sensory physiologists certainly have to be included in an analysis of ENT research. The same is true, as you will see, for a couple of geneticists who are trying to resolve the underlying genetics of those sensory functions – or malfunctions.

Furthermore, as for almost all organ-based publication analyses, those tumour specialists have to be taken into account, whose work is clearly focussed on so-called head and neck cancers – or, more specifically, cancers of the mouth, nose, sinuses, salivary glands, throat and lymph nodes in the neck.

Not too deep into the brain

Finally, one more word about who is not included in this analysis. The demarcation line is drawn where the respective research questions depart too far from the sensory organs themselves and rather aim for the subsequent processing of the perceived information deeper in the brain. This is clearly a matter for basic and clinical brain researchers, who have already enjoyed their own publication analyses in the Lab Times issues no. 1 and 2/2010.

In addition to defining the topical boundaries, we also had to apply the following methodological restriction to this analysis. The “problem” is based on the fact that some of the “top papers” in ENT research appear in multidisciplinary science journals like Nature, New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet. Regrettably, however, we had to omit them at least from the part of the analysis comparing the publication output of the individual countries (tables on next page). The reason is that Web of Science doesn’t provide any reliable tools to automatically extract relevant ENT articles from those multidisciplinary journals. Despite this limitation, however, we believe that a survey, restricted only to the specialist journals listed in Web of Science’s category “otorhinolaryngology”, still provides sufficiently valid indicators for the countries’ overall productivity in ENT research. On the contrary, rankings of the most-cited researchers and papers (see tables, p. 38) could be analysed from publications in all journals.

Surprising “bronze places”

The results of our analysis are presented in the tables in these pages and, in our view, are largely self-explanatory. Therefore, we don’t want to delve too deep into the details of the lists nor shall we waste too many words on the most striking outcomes.

Germany is Europe’s number one in terms of overall number of articles published in the “otorhinolaryngology” journals between 1998 and 2009. England, the European leader in many other biomedical disciplines, this time only remained in second place. Moreover, this order still persists when it comes to the total number of citations of those articles to-date – Germany outperformed England by 31,000 versus 26,700 citations.

Quite a surprise, in this respect, are the “bronze places”: Turkey produced the third-highest number of articles in ENT journals, whereas the third-highest number of citations were achieved by the Netherlands. Another rather unexpected result in the opposite direction is the comparatively weak performance of Spain – only 12th place by total citations.

This Spanish result, however, is largely based on a surprisingly low overall number of articles rather than on a low citation rate. In fact, articles in ENT journals, with at least one co-author from Spain, have been cited seven times on average to-date. This citation-per-article ratio is higher than the respective ones for Germany and England (5.4 and 6.2).

Head and neck cancer experts...

The Netherlands, on the other hand, mainly achieved their “bronze place” due to the high rate of 8.7 citations per article. Only Sweden (9.7), Austria (9.4) and Switzerland (9.3) had even higher rates.

Let’s briefly extend the view beyond Europe’s borders. In total, European authors beat their colleagues from the US by more than 4,500 articles in ENT expert journals (21,900 vs. 17,400). However, due to a far higher average citation rate of 9.9 versus 6.2, the US finally leaves Europe behind when it comes to the number of citations (171,600 vs. 136,200). Japan and Canada, on the other hand, would clearly claim 3rd and 4th places if integrated in the European ranking. With 10.3 citations per article, Australia achieved the highest average citation rate of all countries.

When looking at the five most-cited ENT papers from the period 1998-2009 with a European correspondence address, the first four are about head and neck cancer treatment. The remaining one in fifth place, on the other hand, comes from human genetics and deals with congenital deafness caused by mutation of a gene coding for a certain potassium channel.

...and the “rest”

This relation between head and neck cancer experts and the “rest” turns out to be a little different when looking at the thirty most-cited European ENT researchers. Altogether, 14 tumour specialists made it into the “top 30” led by Jean Bourhis (Villejuif) in 4th place. The remaining 16 colleagues can be roughly grouped as follows: nine geneticists – among them the two “leaders”, Christine Petit (Paris) and Peter Mombaerts (Frankfurt); four physiologists as represented, for example, by Thomas Hummel (Dresden, 6th) and Brian Moore (Cambridge, 13th); and three allergy experts, among whom Paul van Cauwenberge (Ghent, 3rd) achieved the highest rank.

Those 13 “physiological” and “genetic” ENT researchers, on the other hand, might well be alternatively divided into two explicit groups: five researchers studying the molecular mechanisms of olfaction as led by the “number two”, Peter Mombaerts from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt; as well as eight colleagues investigating the molecular and physiological basis for hearing – and hearing loss.

The latter is obviously a particularly successful field for women scientists. Three of those eight hearing researchers are women, including first and foremost Christine Petit from the Institute Pasteur in Paris, who went straight to the top position of the whole analysis – leaving behind, amongst others, all the “real” otorhinolaryngologists.


Articles appearing between 1998 and 2009 in ‘Otorhinolaryngology’ journals as listed by Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science. The citation numbers are accurate as of March 2011. A country’s figures are derived from articles where at least one author working in the respective European nation is included in the author’s list. Israel is included because it is a member of many European research organisations and programmes (EMBO, FP7 of the EU...).

Citations of articles published between 1998 and 2009 were recorded up until Mar 2011 using the Web of Science database from Thomson Reuters. The “most cited papers” had correspondence addresses in Europe or Israel.


Country Citations Articles Cit./Art.

... and the World

Citations Articles Cit./Art.
South Korea5.4621.0915,0

Most Cited Authors...

Citations Articles
1.Christine Petit, Unit Genet. & Physiol. Audit. Inst. Pasteur Paris5.985132
2.Peter Mombaerts, Max-Planck-Inst. Biophys. Frankfurt5.36662
3.Paul van Cauwenberge, Otorhinolaryngol. (ORL) Univ. Hosp. Ghent5.166148
4.Jean H. Bourhis, Radiotherapy Inst. Gustave Roussy Villejuif4.713125
5.Guy van Camp, Med. Genet. Univ. Antwerp4.218194
6.Thomas Hummel, Smell & Taste Clin. Univ. Dresden 4.088267
7.Claus Bachert, ORL Univ. Hosp. Ghent4.022177
8.Doron Lancet, Mol. Genet. Weizman Inst. Sci. Rehovot3.822114
9.Cor W.R.J. Cremers, ORL Radboud Med. Ctr. Univ. Nijmegen3.538204
10.Karen P. Steel, Wellcome Trust Sanger Inst. Hinxton/Cambridge3.02671
11.C. René Leemans, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Free Univ. Amsterdam2.842163
12.Ruud H. Brakenhoff, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Free Univ. Amsterdam2.76175
13.Brian C.J. Moore, Exp. Psychol. Univ. Cambridge2.719180
14.Heinz Breer, Physiol. Univ. Stuttgart Hohenheim2.63097
15.Karen B. Avraham, Human Genet. Sackler Sch. Med. Tel Aviv Univ.2.48772
16.Reidar Grenman, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Univ. Hosp. Turku2.401135
17.Gordon B. Snow, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Free Univ. Amsterdam2.33495
18.Alfio Ferlito, ORL Head & Neck Surg Univ. Udine2.196193
19.Friedrich Horak, ORL Gen. Univ. Hosp. Vienna2.12273
20.Alessandra Rinaldo, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Univ. Udine2.088187
21.Aziz El-Amraoui, Unit Genet. & Physiol. Audit. Inst. Pasteur Paris2.07457
22.Vincent Gregoire, Radiat. Oncol. Acad. Hosp. Cath. Univ. Louvain2.05533
23.Johannes H.A. Kaanders, Radiat. Oncol. Radboud Univ. Nijmegen2.04276
24.Guy P. Richardson, Sch. Life Sci. Univ. Sussex Brighton1.98378
25.Hans Hatt, Cell. Physiol. Univ. Bochum1.92251
26.Valerie J. Lund, Laryngol. & Otol. Univ. Coll. London1.89370
27.Karl Hörmann, ORL Head & Neck Surg. Univ. Hosp. Mannheim1.834106
28.Simon N. Rogers, Maxillofacial Unit Walton Hosp. Liverpool1.831232
29.Wolfgang Arnold, ORL Head & Neck Surg .Tech. Univ. Munich1.820102
30.Jochen A. Werner, Otolaryngol. Head & Neck Surg. Univ. Marburg1.771224

... and Papers

1.Pignon, JP; Bourhis, J; Domenge, C; Designe, L
Chemotherapy added to locoregional treatment for head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma: three meta-analyses of updated individual data.
LANCET, 355 (9208): 949-955 MAR 18 2000
2.Henke, M; Laszig, R; Rube, C; [...]; Burger, U; Dougherty, C; Frommhold, H
Erythropoietin to treat head and neck cancer patients with anaemia undergoing radiotherapy: randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
LANCET, 362 (9392): 1255-1260 OCT 18 2003
3.Calais, G; Alfonsi, M; Bardet, E; Sire, C; Germain, T; Bergerot, P; Rhein, B; Tortochaux, J; Oudinot, P; Bertrand, P
Randomized trial of radiation therapy versus concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy for advanced-stage oropharynx carcinoma.
4.Bernier, J; Domenge, C; Ozsahin, M; [...]; Bourhis, J; Kirkpatrick, A; van Glabbeke, M
Postoperative irradiation with or without concomitant chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer.
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 350 (19): 1945-1952 MAY 6 2004
5.Kubisch, C; Schroeder, BC; Friedrich, T; Lutjohann, B; El-Amraoui, A; Marlin, S; Petit, C; Jentsch, TJ
KCNQ4, a novel potassium channel expressed in sensory outer hair cells, is mutated in dominant deafness.
CELL, 96 (3): 437-446 FEB 5 1999

Last Changed: 31.03.2012