Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

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Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

#12 Identify experts in a specific field/topic

Read time: 4 min.

Hey friends,

When doing research, you may want to identify experts in your field for different reasons:

  • You want to know and follow “key opinion leaders” of your field.
  • You are looking for mentors
  • You want to find researchers to work with them.
    • Such collaborations can vary from simple discussions to co-publication.
    • You may also want to join their team. Regardless of the sector (academia, industry, government, nonprofit etc.)
  • Finally, a common challenge is to find experts to review manuscripts or funding applications.

In this newsletter, I list a few techniques that you can apply to shortlist experts in your field.

Let’s start with the key method.

Publications data

You might have heard or read: “Researchers are what they publish”.

Although this is very limiting, scientific publications’ data can reveal a lot of information about their authors.

This is the data I use when looking for experts in a specific field.

I run search queries about my topic of interest in the Web of Science.

I usually limit my search to the past 3 to 5 years to find active researchers and have recent information about them.


Once I find the relevant publications, I can conduct different analyses.

I can quickly see:

  • who the most publishing researchers are
  • their affiliations
  • the exact research topics
  • their collaborators
  • the funding they received
  • their citation impact

This gives me an idea of the profile of active researchers in my field.


When looking at their individual profiles in bibliographic databases, I can find various indicators about their publishing activities.

Such information may include:

  • their recent publishing affiliations
  • their topics of interest
  • their publishing career history
  • the number & list of publications
  • the number of citations and other citation indicators such as average number of citations per publication

 If the researcher manages the profile, you may also find extra information like:

  • their peer-review activity
  • their editorial board memberships
  • their co-authors network
  • normalized citation impact by field and year for better comparison with peers
  • and authors with similar activities

All this information helps to have some visibility of someone’s expertise.


To contact them, you will find their email address in the publications where they are the corresponding author.

Although I limit my searches to the past 5 years, some researchers might have moved to other institutions. And their email addresses might not be active anymore.

In this case, you can still search for them through social media.

Win-win approach

The golden rule when contacting someone by email: think win-win:

  • Clear subject line
  • Personalization: include their name. Show that you have done some research. And mention one of their publications that is relevant to your work.
  • Introduce yourself briefly and mention why you contact them. Be relevant.
  • Be polite and professional. Check your spelling and grammar
  • Show the value the expert(s) would get from your collaboration
  • Propose clear next steps (call? Online meeting?)
  • Thank them for their time and consideration
  • Include your contact details in your signature
  • If no response, follow up after a few days

That’s it. This is my strategy to find and contact experts.

And that’s the best way to find various opportunities based on your expertise and interests.

If anything is unclear, please contact me and I will reply.

See you in the next newsletter!


Question of the Week

What else would you do to find and contact experts in your field?

Share with us your advice and experiences in the comments section!

My favorite things

  1. Two recent on-site sessions at a major research institution in Abu Dhabi (UAE). Lots of rich conversations with participants on recent technology developments.

  2. The month of Ramadan started this week and fasting comes with multiple benefits: physical detox of course. But also connecting more with relatives and friends, sharing, spirituality, gratitude, and focus on important things.

Quote of the Week

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.”
― Nicholas Butler

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