Charting the Publication and Citation Impact of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program From 2006 Through 2016


The authors evaluated publication and citation patterns for articles supported by Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) hub investment over the first decade of the CTSA program. The aim was to elucidate a pivotal step in the translational process by providing an account of how time, hub maturity, and hub attributes were related to productivity and influence in the academic literature.


In early 2017, the authors collected bibliometric data from PubMed, Web of Science InCites, and NIH iCite for articles citing any CTSA hub grants published from hub inception through 2016. They compiled data on publication and citation rates, and indices of relative citation impact aggregated by hub funding year cohort. They compared hub-level bibliometric activity by multi- versus single-institution structure and total monetary award sums, compiled from NIH RePORTER.


From 2006–2016, CTSA hubs supported over 66,000 publications, with publication rates accelerating as hubs matured. These publications accumulated over 1.2 million citations, with some articles cited over 1,000 times. Indices of relative citation impact indicated that CTSA-supported publications were cited more than twice as often as expected for articles of their publication years and disciplines. Multi-institutional hubs and those awarded higher grant sums exhibited significantly higher publication and citation activity.


The CTSA program is yielding a robust and growing body of influential research findings with consistently high indices of relative citation impact. Preliminary evidence suggests multi-institutional collaborations and more monetary resources are associated with elevated bibliometric activity, and therefore, may be worth their investment.

Nicole Llewellyn, PhD, Dorothy R. Carter, PhD, Latrice Rollins, PhD, and Eric J. Nehl, PhD
Academic medicine journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
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