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Science research is a large and sprawling endeavor, with thousands of laboratories around the world studying their own ultra-specialized piece of a much more significant whole. It’s the logical intersection of reductionist scientific heritage and centuries of technological advances: in order to advance our understanding of the world around us, we must pursue increasingly specific sub-disciplines, from retina neural computation to space plasma physics.

Which is why Thomson Reuters’ scene-scoping study on “100 Key Scientific Research Fronts” is a welcome report for science enthusiasts eager to stay updated on cutting-edge research but lacking the time to read every issue of Science or Nature cover-to-cover.

The report ranks research areas with a special sauce formula that first divides the entirety of scientific research into 8,000 categories that form the “Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators” database. Within each subdivision, a set of core papers is designated by frequent and clustered citations, identifying foundational scientific literature that earned a lot of shout outs in reports of subsequent discoveries. To find today’s hottest research fields, only core papers published between 2007-2012 were considered; the number of citations of those papers and their average publication date were compiled. As the report notes, “a research front with many core papers of recent vintage often indicates a fast-moving or hot specialty.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean these fields are the most important or the most beneficial to society – it just means scientists (and, by extension, groups funding the research) are getting pretty excited about what they’re learning. Here, we take a quick look at the hottest research front in each of ten thematic categories – the sharpest of the cutting edge.

Click headline to access the links to the Hottest 10 Fields–

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