MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Google Scholar is quite a fantastic tool; I recently (20/5/2021) glanced at my own profile and decided to have a closer look at the 100 of my papers that have been cited most frequently. The list below shows these ‘top 100’; in the 1st column is the reference (title of the article, authors, journal). In the MIDDLE column are the numbers of times each paper has been cited (if you click on it, you see the articles that cited the paper in question), and the far-right column tells you the year of publication.

Here we go:

Interactions between herbal medicines and prescribed drugs. AA Izzo, E Ernst: Drugs 61 (15), 2163-2175 1608* 2001
Influence of context effects on health outcomes: a systematic review. Z Di Blasi, E Harkness, E Ernst, A Georgiou, J Kleijnen: Lancet 357 (9258), 757-762 1564 2001
Fibrinogen as a cardiovascular risk factor: a meta-analysis and review of the literature. E Ernst, KL Resch: Annals of internal medicine 118 (12), 956-963 1544 1993
The prevalence of complementary/alternative medicine in cancer: a systematic review. E Ernst, B Cassileth: Cancer: Interdisciplinary International Journal of the American Cancer 1173 1998
The desktop guide to complementary and alternative medicine: an evidence-based approach. E Ernst, MH Pittler, C Stevinson, A White 854 2001
Harmless herbs? A review of the recent literature. E Ernst: The American journal of medicine 104 (2), 170-178 852 1998
The desktop guide to complementary and alternative medicine: an evidence-based approach. E Ernst, MH Pittler, C Stevinson, A White 837 2001
Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. BK Vogler, E Ernst: British journal of general practice 49 (447), 823-828 767 1999
Leukocytes and the risk of ischemic diseases. E Ernst, DE Hammerschmidt, U Bagge, A Matrai, JA Dormandy: Jama 257 (17), 2318-2324 754 1987
The Risk–Benefit Profile of Commonly Used Herbal Therapies: Ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Echinacea, Saw Palmetto, and Kava. E Ernst: Annals of internal medicine 136 (1), 42-53 726 2002
Prevalence of use of complementary/alternative medicine: a systematic review. E Ernst: Bulletin of the world health organization 78, 258-266 725 2000
The BBC survey of complementary medicine use in the UK. E Ernst, A White: Complementary therapies in medicine 8 (1), 32-36 646 2000
The efficacy of “distant healing”: a systematic review of randomized trials. JA Astin, E Harkness, E Ernst: Parapsychology, 433-440 633 2017
Toxic heavy metals and undeclared drugs in Asian herbal medicines. E Ernst: Trends in pharmacological sciences 23 (3), 136-139 630 2002
Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. E Ernst, MH Pittler: British journal of anaesthesia 84 (3), 367-371 623 2000
Meta-analysis: acupuncture for low back pain. E Manheimer, A White, B Berman, K Forys, E Ernst: Annals of internal medicine 142 (8), 651-663 600 2005
Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

C Stevinson, MH Pittler, E Ernst: Annals of internal medicine 133 (6), 420-429

550 2000
Bringing medicinal plants into cultivation: opportunities and challenges for biotechnology. PH Canter, H Thomas, E Ernst: TRENDS in Biotechnology 23 (4), 180-185 524 2005
St John’s wort: Prozac from the plant kingdom. G Di Carlo, F Borrelli, E Ernst, AA Izzo: Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 22 (6), 292-297 500* 2001
Adverse events following acupuncture: prospective survey of 32 000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. A White, S Hayhoe, A Hart, E Ernst: Bmj 323 (7311), 485-486 498 2001
Concept of true and perceived placebo effects. E Ernst, KL Resch: Bmj 311 (7004), 551-553 495 1995
A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. E Ernst: British journal of clinical pharmacology 54 (6), 577-582 482 2002
Aromatherapy: a systematic review. B Cooke, E Ernst: British journal of general practice 50 (455), 493-496 476 2000
The efficacy of ginseng. A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. BK Vogler, MH Pittler, E Ernst: European journal of clinical pharmacology 55 (8), 567-575 476 1999
Second thoughts about safety of St John’s wort. E Ernst: Lancet 354 (9195), 2014-2016 475 1999
Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. MH Pittler, E Ernst: The American journal of clinical nutrition 79 (4), 529-536 473 2004
Herb–drug interactions: review and assessment of report reliability. A Fugh‐Berman, E Ernst: British journal of clinical pharmacology 52 (5), 587-595 468 2001
Acupuncture for back pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. E Ernst, AR White: Archives of internal medicine 158 (20), 2235-2241 421 1998
Prospective studies of the safety of acupuncture: a systematic review. E Ernst, AR White: The American journal of medicine 110 (6), 481-485 411 2001
Panax ginseng, JT Coon, E Ernst: Drug safety 25 (5), 323-344 408 2002
The role of complementary and alternative medicine. E Ernst: Bmj 321 (7269), 1133 404 2000
Review of randomised controlled trials of traditional Chinese medicine. JL Tang, SY Zhan, E Ernst: Bmj 319 (7203), 160-161 388 1999
Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome: a critical review and metaanalysis. MH Pittler, E Ernst: The American journal of gastroenterology 93 (7), 1131-1135 384 1998
Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. E Ernst, MH Pittler: The Journal of urology 159 (2), 433-436 380 1998
Trick or treatment: The undeniable facts about alternative medicine. S Singh, E Ernst: WW Norton & Company 379* 2008
Prospective investigation of adverse effects of acupuncture in 97 733 patients. D Melchart, W Weidenhammer, A Streng, S Reitmayr, A Hoppe, E Ernst: Archives of internal medicine 164 (1), 104-105 375 2004
Adulteration of Chinese herbal medicines with synthetic drugs: a systematic review. E Ernst: Journal of internal medicine 252 (2), 107-113 374 2002
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: evaluating current evidence and informing future research. HF Coelho, PH Canter, E Ernst. Educational Publishing Foundation 1 (S), 97 362 2013
Acupuncture–a critical analysis. E Ernst: J. Intern Med 259 (2), 125-137 357 2006
Acupuncture for treating acute ankle sprains in adults. TH Kim, MS Lee, KH Kim, JW Kang, TY Choi, E Ernst: Cochrane database of systematic reviews 353* 2014
Kava extract versus placebo for treating anxiety. MH Pittler, E Ernst:Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 352 2003
Methods for causality assessment of adverse drug reactions. TB Agbabiaka, J Savović, E Ernst: Drug safety 31 (1), 21-37 348 2008
Efficacy of kava extract for treating anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis. MH Pittler, E Ernst: Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 20 (1), 84-89 345 2000
Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. MH Pittler, E Ernst: Cochrane database of systematic reviews 341 2012
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for neck pain. AR White, E Ernst: Rheumatology (Oxford, England) 38 (2), 143-147 334 1999
Cardiovascular pharmacotherapy and herbal medicines: the risk of drug interaction. AA Izzo, G Di Carlo, F Borrelli, E Ernst: International journal of cardiology 98 (1), 1-14 333 2005
Ice freezes pain? A review of the clinical effectiveness of analgesic cold therapy. E Ernst, V Fialka: Journal of pain and symptom management 9 (1), 56-59 332 1994
Complementary medicine—a definition. E Ernst, KL Resch, S Mills, R Hill, A Mitchell, M Willoughby, A White: The British Journal of General Practice 45 (398), 506 331 1995
Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. D Moher, A Liberati, J Tetzlaff, DG Altman, D Altman, G Antes, D Atkins, … Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine 7 (9), 889-896 327 2009
Validating a new non-penetrating sham acupuncture device: two randomised controlled trials. J Park, A White, C Stevinson, E Ernst, M James: Acupuncture in Medicine 20 (4), 168-174 324 2002
Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? E Ernst: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 109 (3), 227-235 322 2002
Adverse effects of herbal drugs in dermatology. E Ernst: British Journal of Dermatology 143 (5), 923-929 319 2000
Plasma fibrinogen—an independent cardiovascular risk factor. E Ernst: Journal of internal medicine 227 (6), 365-372 317 1990
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) for the prevention of cancer: K Boehm, F Borrelli, E Ernst, G Habacher, SK Hung, S Milazzo, … Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 312 2009
Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. JT Coon, E Ernst: Planta medica 70 (04), 293-298 310 2004
Different standards for reporting ADRs to herbal remedies and conventional OTC medicines: face‐to‐face interviews with 515 users of herbal remedies: J Barnes, SY Mills, NC Abbot, M Willoughby, E Ernst: British journal of clinical pharmacology 45 (5), 496-500 308 1998
Complementary and alternative medicine use in England: results from a national survey. KJ Hunt, HF Coelho, B Wider, R Perry, SK Hung, R Terry, E Ernst: International journal of clinical practice 64 (11), 1496-1502 305 2010
Acupuncture for smoking cessation. AR White, H Rampes, E Ernst: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 304* 2002
A review of stroke rehabilitation and physiotherapy. E Ernst: Stroke 21 (7), 1081-1085 298 1990
Ginkgo biloba extract for the treatment of intermittent claudication: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. MH Pittler, E Ernst: The American journal of medicine 108 (4), 276-281 295 2000
Adverse effects of spinal manipulation: a systematic review. E Ernst: Journal of the royal society of medicine 100 (7), 330-338 290 2007
The safety of massage therapy. E Ernst: Rheumatology 42 (9), 1101-1106 282 2003
Life-threatening adverse reactions after acupuncture? A systematic review. E Ernst, A White: Pain 71 (2), 123-126 282 1997
Herbal medicines for treatment of bacterial infections: a review of controlled clinical trials. KW Martin, E Ernst: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 51 (2), 241-246 280 2003
Alternative and complementary therapies for the menopause. Borrelli, E Ernst: Maturitas 66 (4), 333-343 278 2010
Valerian for insomnia: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. C Stevinson, E Ernst: Sleep medicine 1 (2), 91-99 271 2000
Adverse effects profile of the herbal antidepressant St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.). E Ernst, JI Rand, J Barnes, C Stevinson: European journal of clinical pharmacology 54 (8), 589-594 271 1998
The possible role of hemorheology in atherothrombogenesis. W Koenig, E Ernst: Atherosclerosis 94 (2-3), 93-107 269 1992
Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. DJ Jang, MS Lee, BC Shin, YC Lee, E Ernst: British journal of clinical pharmacology 66 (4), 444-450 263 2008
Complementary therapies for depression: an overview. E Ernst, JI Rand, C Stevinson: Archives of general psychiatry 55 (11), 1026-1032 260 1998
Quality of herbal medicines: challenges and solutions. J Zhang, B Wider, H Shang, X Li, E Ernst: Complementary therapies in medicine 20 (1-2), 100-106 257 2012
Heavy metals in traditional Indian remedies. E Ernst: European journal of clinical pharmacology 57 (12), 891-896 253 2002
Heavy metals in traditional Chinese medicines: a systematic review. E Ernst, JT Coon: Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 70 (6), 497-504 251 2001
Vitex agnus castus. C Daniele, JT Coon, MH Pittler, E Ernst: Drug safety 28 (4), 319-332 245 2005
Acupuncture for peripheral joint osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. YD Kwon, MH Pittler, E Ernst: Rheumatology 45 (11), 1331-1337 242 2006
The efficacy of herbal medicine–an overview. E Ernst: Fundamental & clinical pharmacology 19 (4), 405-409 242 2005
Herb–drug interactions: an overview of systematic reviews. P Posadzki, L Watson, E Ernst. British journal of clinical pharmacology 75 (3), 603-618 241 2013
Adverse events of herbal food supplements for body weight reduction: systematic review. MH Pittler, K Schmidt, E Ernst: obesity reviews 6 (2), 93-111 240 2005
Randomized, double-blind trial of chitosan for body weight reduction. MH Pittler, NC Abbot, EF Harkness, E Ernst: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 53 (5), 379-381 237 1999
Massage therapy for low back pain: a systematic review. E Ernst: Journal of pain and symptom management 17 (1), 65-69 236 1999
Feverfew for preventing migraine. MH Pittler, E Ernst: Cochrane database of systematic reviews 235 2004
Intermittent claudication, exercise, and blood rheology. EE Ernst, A Matrai: Circulation 76 (5), 1110-1114 235 1987
Adverse effects of herbal medicines: an overview of systematic reviews. P Posadzki, LK Watson, E Ernst: Clinical medicine 13 (1), 7 233 2013
Horse-chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency: a criteria-based systematic review. MH Pittler, E Ernst: Archives of Dermatology 134 (11), 1356-1360 232 1998
The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating acute dental pain: a systematic review. E Ernst, MH Pittler: British dental journal 184 (9), 443-447 231 1998
 Complementary therapies for asthma: what patients use. E Ernst: Journal of Asthma 35 (8), 667-671 230 1998
87.   Acupuncture: does it alleviate pain and are there serious risks? A review of reviews. E Ernst, MS Lee, TY Choi: PAIN 152 (4), 755-764 229 2011
The effectiveness of spinal manipulation for the treatment of headache disorders: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. JA Astin, E Ernst: Cephalalgia 22 (8), 617-623 228 2002
Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. MH Pittler, K Schmidt, E Ernst: The American journal of medicine 114 (8), 665-674 227 2003
Complementary medicine: what physicians think of it: a meta-analysis. E Ernst, KL Resch, AR White: Archives of internal medicine 155 (22), 2405-2408 226 1995
A brief history of acupuncture. A White, E Ernst: Rheumatology 43 (5), 662-663 225 2004
Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. R Guo, MH Pittler, E Ernst: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 221 2008
Prevalence of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients/consumers in the UK: systematic review of surveys. P Posadzki, LK Watson, A Alotaibi, E Ernst: Clinical medicine 13 (2), 126 220 2013
Herbal medicines for asthma: a systematic review. A Huntley, E Ernst: Thorax 55 (11), 925-929 218 2000
 Plasma viscosity and the risk of coronary heart disease: results from the MONICA-Augsburg Cohort Study, 1984 to 1992. W Koenig, M Sund, B Filipiak, A Doring, H Lowel, E Ernst: Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 18 (5), 768-772 215 1998
Alternative therapy bias. E Ernst, MH Pittler: Nature 385 (6616), 480-480 214 1997
 Systematic review: hepatotoxic events associated with herbal medicinal products. MH Pittler, E Ernst: Aliment Pharmacol & Therapeutics 18 (5), 451-471 212 2003
Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) for night vision—a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials. PH Canter, E Ernst: Survey of ophthalmology 49 (1), 38-50 210 2004
Prevalence of complementary/alternative medicine for children: a systematic review. E Ernst: European journal of pediatrics 158 (1), 7-11 210 1999
Homeopathy for postoperative ileus?: a meta-analysis. J Barnes, KL Resch, E Ernst: Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 25 (4), 628-633

What my analysis of these data suggests is the following:

  1. Only relatively few articles (n=8) are in the ‘top 100’ that I published before I took up the Exeter post starting full-time research into so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).
  2. Despite the fact that in any such analysis older papers are at a significant advantage over newer articles, the vast majority of these 100 papers are relatively recent.
  3. Very few of our clinical trials are in the ‘top 100’, even though I did publish well over 50 during my career.
  4. Systematic reviews dominate by far and amount to 49 of the ‘top 100’.
  5. Even some of my ‘letters to the editor’ did make it into the ‘top 100’.
  6. Six of the 100 papers are surveys.
  7. As to the SCAM topics, most articles are on herbal medicine (n=39), followed by acupuncture (13), manual therapies (4), and homeopathy (2).
  8. A total of 21 of the papers have their main focus on safety issues.
  9. The vast majority of the papers are co-authored by more than one member of my team.
  10. A total of 22 articles were produced in collaboration with researchers who were not members of my team.
  11. Seventeen papers were single-author papers by myself.
  12. Even though I certainly did publish a lot in journals specialized in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), only very few of these articles made it into this list.

There are many things that I find interesting in all this. Perhaps just a few points:

  • The two SCAM areas in which I have published many articles and do get a lot of flack for what I have written are homeopathy and chiropractic. Surprisingly, not many of these papers are in the ‘top 100’. I am not sure whether this is meaningful and if so how I should interpret this.
  • The fact that hardly any papers published in SCAM journals made the ‘top 100’ is interesting but not surprising. It means that researchers who want to see their work cited – and who doesn’t? – should avoid such journals (there are, of course, other reasons as well for avoiding such journals).
  • The fact that even ‘letters to the editors’ can get cited so frequently seems unexpected but I find it encouraging.
  • Collaboration with researchers who are not from one’s own team can be, in my experience, cumbersome but it is worth it and often fruitful.
  • If you asked me, is there a correlation between the quality of a paper and the frequency with which it is cited, I’d have to say NO.
  • If you asked me, is there a correlation between the importance of a paper and the frequency with which it is cited, I’d have to say NO again.

6 Responses to A look at my own publications

  • “The fact that hardly any papers published in SCAM journals made the ‘top 100’ is interesting but not surprising. It means that researchers who want to see their work cited – and who doesn’t? – should avoid such journals (there are, of course, other reasons as well for avoiding such journals).”

    An interesting point; I chose to publish a systematic review and meta-analysis on the use of Echinacea to treat coughs and colds in the journal “Complementary Therapies in Medicine”. Unfortunately the experience was not positive, the editor seemed unhappy with our mostly negative conclusions that we felt were supported by the data, and they added an additional peer review. We were also asked to perform additional unplanned analyses which seemed to amount to p-hacking. The following “highlight” was added to the article homepage without our asking: “There is some promising evidence for the use of echinacea in the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections.”. This was not something that could reasonably concluded from what we wrote.

    I would still be tempted to publish in these journals though, it doesn’t feel sensible to abandon them to only publish promotional work.

    • how interesting; I have also had strange experiences with that journal.
      as I was on its ed-board, I used to publish quite a bit in it.

  • Google Scholar is indeed amazing. I just found a patent with my father as inventor, from 1960.

  • “Surprisingly, not many of these papers are in the ‘top 100’. I am not sure whether this is meaningful and if so how I should interpret this.”

    Perhaps your fame was overshadowed after Hahn showed that you manipulate data and now you are taken seriously into account only by foreign lobbies (such as the “Questao da Ciencia Institute”) and German lobby that you run from your country. It’s normal, Ernst, it’s not surprising that your colleague Natalia Pasternak pathetically cites your book in her article to justify the elimination of homeopathy in Brazil.

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