When scientists cite each other's work, they - sometimes unknowingly - link related or identical topics within their scientific research. These "invisible colleges" identify emerging trends and specialty areas - providing a distinct advantage for world policymakers tasked with furthering research in the face of limited resources.

Research front data reveal links among researchers working on related threads of scientific inquiry, but whose background might not suggest that they belong to the same “invisible college.”

By examining highly cited research papers from 2007 through 2012, Thomson Reuters identified research fronts built on recently published "core," or foundational, journal articles. These research fronts were segmented into 10 broad fields of science and social sciences, and a top 10 listing was provided for each. A research front consists of a group of highly cited core papers and the more recent literature that frequently co-cites these papers. They define specialty areas of contemporary research.

"Providing this type of analysis for the scientific community is one of the core competencies of our business," said Gordon Macomber, managing director of Thomson Reuters Scientific and Scholarly Research. "Trend analysis provides researchers, funders, and institution administrators a bird's-eye view of key areas of study with the most rapid growth. This knowledge may help them make better informed decisions on where they should expand their research efforts, allocate funds and focus other resources."