November 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Striking iPS cell research publishing trends: what do they mean?

Dopamine neurons derived from a Parkinson's disease patient's IPS cell line (Tyrosine hydroxylase)
Dopamine neurons derived from a Parkinson’s disease patient’s iPS cell line (Tyrosine hydroxylase). Image source: Loring lab.

Update in 2020: Wow, a lot has changed since this post almost 10 years ago, but Cell Stem Cell remains the main publisher of IPS cell articles still.


The young iPSC field has published a truly massive number of papers in just 4 years.

Searching ISI Web of Knowledge for papers with titles reflecting iPSC research (not just those that mention iPS cells), we find 424 total iPS cell articles from 2006-present.

Interestingly, 32 of them (7.5%) were published in a single journal, Cell Stem Cell.  Cell Stem Cell appears to be the “go to” journal for iPSC work.

A close second is Stem Cells, with 6.1% of all iPSC articles. It has been catching up.

Cell Stem Cell’s sister journal, Cell, published 2.4% of all articles on iPS cells so far.

This means that Cell and Cell Stem Cell have together published a whopping 1 out of 10 articles in the entire iPSC field.

Nature family journals (Nature Biotechnology (12), Nature (10), Nature Protocols (10, Molecular Therapy (5), Nature Methods (4), EMBO Reports (4), Nature Genetics (2), Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery (2), and Nature Reviews in Molecular and Cell Biology (2) ) have published 51 iPS cell articles, representing 12% of all such articles in the field. Nature has so many journals now I’m probably missing 1 or 2 too.

This means between the Cell and Nature families, almost 1/4 of all iPS cell articles have been published in their journals.

This is striking, right?

Just as surprising is that most top journals in the Biology field have few or most often no iPSC research or review articles at all!

*The amazingly good journal Science has carried just 1.6% of iPSC articles and the trend is steeply downward.  In 2009, Science only had 4 iPS cell papers and 3 of them were not research articles. So in 2009, Science had just 1 iPSC research article.  If you can believe it, Science has no iPS cell papers of any kind at all in 2010. So from 2009-present, Science has had just 1 lonesome iPS cell research article.

*One of my favorite journals, Genes and Development? This particular search turned up 0 iPS cell articles.

*Molecular Biology of the Cell? 0.

*Journal of Cell Biology?  Also 0.

*Journal of Cell Science? Also 0.

*JBC? Also 0.

*Molecular and Cellular Biology? Also 0.

*Development? Also 0.

*PLoS Biology? Also 0.

And so on…

So what the heck is going on?  You tell me.