1. Achieving Research Excellence & Citation Success


Research excellence, as now often judged on the basis of citations of published articles, is increasingly important to individual scientists, the journals in which they publish, and the institutions at which they are based. Citations, for example, form the basis of the h-index, by which scientists are being judged; journal impact factor scores; and institutional rankings, such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Positions, prestige, and funding are all at stake.

I have a profound understanding of research excellence, am highly regarded internationally for the transformative roles I have played in my areas of research, and have had great success in terms of citations. I was designated a ‘Highly Cited Author’ in the Highly Cited Research database in 2004, and have now accumulated over 9,300 total citations and acquired an h-index of 40. I published an article in 2010 (Pyke and Ehrlich 2010) that has so far received over 110 citations and, just over a year ago, I published another article (Pyke 2015) that has already received about 20 citations, putting it in the top 0.1% of articles in terms of citations, given the time since publication. Just last month I published two more articles (Pyke 2016b, a),  that I predict will be similarly highly-cited

I have developed a general strategy, for achieving research excellence and associated enhanced citation success, that is conceptually straightforward, I have adopted myself, and works well (Pyke 2013, 2014). My strategy is based on an approach embracing three things – Significance, Impact and Presentation – that are simultaneously pursued (see below for further details). When I have employed this strategy, my articles have been generally well or highly cited. For example, I adopted this strategy for my two recent and highly-cited articles mentioned above, as well as for the even more recent articles, that I published last month and that I predict will be similarly highly-cited. I am sole or senior author for all these recent articles and for the vast majority of my previous highly-cited articles, and so my achievements do not depend significantly on anyone else.

Strategy for achieving research excellence

My strategy for achieving research excellence has three components: an approach (or mindset), tools to make it work, and feedback. The approach consists of several goals or guiding principles, designed to lead to high-quality research and to help put existing research in the best possible context. The tools are procedures that can assist in the pursuit of the goals, and feedback can indicate goal achievement and suggest improvements.

My recommended approach includes three major goals: maximal Significance, maximal Influence, and excellent Presentation (i.e., SIP for short). These goals may be applied both where future areas of scientific inquiry are being considered and where research has already been carried out. They are subjective but quantifiable and, therefore, actionable.

Thus my recommended strategy is simple and straightforward, largely a matter of common sense. Yet it is rarely adopted, because it involves components that must work together, and the implementation of these components is difficult, requiring focus and determination that are not easy to achieve. 

Personal qualities required

Achieving research success—and, therefore, citation success—requires certain personal traits in combination. Significant influence, for example, which is fundamental to both research quality and citation success, requires a mission, passion, a level of arrogance or self-worth, and confidence. The mission is to target influence for the target audience, and achieving such a mission requires a commensurate level of passion. It is somewhat arrogant to believe that the desired influence is warranted, but this sense of self-worth is essential. Furthermore, without appropriately high confidence, the desired outcome is unlikely. In addition, the adoption and implementation of my recommended tools require significant commitment and determination; otherwise, they do not happen.

Translating strategy into action

 I have developed a flexible format for enabling researchers to translate the above goals into action and outcomes. At one end of the spectrum, I may provide intensive workshops for up to about 20 participants, over about a two-week period with subsequent follow-up. At the other end, I provide individual mentoring over agreed time-frames

2. Professional Writing Skills

All professional documents, including Reports, Proposals, Articles for Publication, and the like, need to be captivating, compelling and memorable, if they are going to have desired outcomes and reflect well on their authors. Such a document should, at every stage, be captivating, in the sense that it attracts and maintains the attention of a reader; only then will its story be fully told. In particular, the title must attract the reader and encourage reading of the abstract or summary, which in turn encourages reading of the introduction, and so on. A document, seeking to have some influence, will have to be compelling in presenting its arguments; otherwise its message will be lost. A document must also be memorable; otherwise it may not be referred to, and its authors may get little credit.

In order for a document to be captivating, compelling and memorable it needs, more fundamentally, to be simple, concise, logical and clear.  It should adopt KISS, which stands for ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’, because complexity may confuse and distract a reader. It should also be concise, because readers generally have short attention spans and many competing time demands, logical because a reader is unlikely to be convinced by illogical argument, and clear because ambiguity and uncertainty will also confuse.

I have developed a strategy and set of tools for preparing professional documents, that aim to be captivating, compelling and memorable, and that I use myself. My published articles, especially recent ones [?? Links to articles], demonstrate that this approach works well for me. It could work for anyone.

Translating strategy into action

 I have developed a format for enabling researchers to learn to use my strategy, and can provide individual mentoring based on this format. My format is conceptually reasonably simple and straightforward, but requires focus, determination and feedback, for it to work. 

3. High School to University – Mathematics, Biology, Environmental Science

My Background

I have an extremely strong background in mathematics, biology, environmental science and related areas, from High School through University. I attended North Sydney Boys High School, finishing as ‘Dux’ of the school, coming about 30th in the State overall, and first in mathematics. I was then a student at the University of Sydney where I mostly achieved High Distinctions, including in 1st Year Biology, 2nd Year Zoology and in mathematics/ statistics courses across Years 1-3. I finished with 1st Class Honours in Mathematical Statistics, coming 1st in the Class. I then commenced a PhD in Mathematical Statistics at the University of Sydney, but soon ceased this in favour of a PhD combining mathematics and biology at the University of Chicago, one of the top Universities in the world. After completing my PhD, I have had a long professional career as a research biologist during which I have continued to combine biology, mathematics and statistics.

I have also had considerable teaching experience, especially over the last 10 years. During this time, I have given lectures in a range of subject areas, including plant reproduction, animal behaviour, ecology, wildlife biology, environmental protection and management. I have also been supervising students at Hons, Masters and PhD levels.

Providing Assistance

I can provide assistance to High School or University students who wish to improve their knowledge and understanding in mathematics, biology, environmental science, or related areas.


Pyke, G. H. 2013. Struggling scientists. Please cite our papers! Current Science 105:1061-1066.

Pyke, G. H. 2014. Achieving research excellence and citation success: What’s the point and how do you do it? Bioscience 64:90-91.

Pyke, G. H. 2015. Understanding movements of organisms: it's time to abandon the Lévy foraging hypothesis. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6:1-16.

Pyke, G. H. 2016a. Floral Nectar: Pollinator Attraction or Manipulation? Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

Pyke, G. H. 2016b. Plant–pollinator co-evolution: It's time to reconnect with Optimal Foraging Theory and Evolutionarily Stable Strategies. Perspectives in Plant Ecology Evolution & Systematics 19:70-76.

Pyke, G. H., and P. R. Ehrlich. 2010. Biological collections and ecological/ environmental research: a review, some observations and a look to the future. Biological Reviews 85:247-266.