Science of Success

Quantifying the Evolution of Individual Scientific Impact

Despite the frequent use of numerous quantitative indicators to gauge the professional impact of a scientist, little is known about how scientific impact emerges and evolves in time. Here, we quantify the changes in impact and productivity throughout a career in science, finding that impact, as measured by influential publications, is distributed randomly within a scientist’s sequence of publications. This random-impact rule allows us to formulate a stochastic model that uncouples the effects of productivity, individual ability, and luck and unveils the existence of universal patterns governing the emergence of scientific success. The model assigns a unique individual parameter Q to each scientist, which is stable during a career, and it accurately predicts the evolution of a scientist’s impact, from the h-index to cumulative citations, and independent recognitions, such as prizes.


More publications
S. D. Ghiassian, J. Menche, D. I. Chasman, F. Giulianini, R. Wang, P. Ricchiuto, M. Aikawa, H. Iwata, C. Muller, T. Zeller, A. Sharma, P. Wild, K. Lackner, S. Singh, P. M. Ridker, S. Blankenberg, A.-L. Barabasi, J. Loscalzo

Scientific Reports 6: 27414, 1-13 (2016)

D. Gomez-Cabrero, J. Menche, C. Vargas, I. Cano, D. Maier, A.-L. Barabasi, J. Tegner, J. Roca (Synergy-COPD Consortia)

BMC Bioinformatics 17: 1291 (2016)

M. Posfai, J. Gao, S. P. Cornelius, A.-L. Barabasi, R. D'Souza

Physical Review E 94: 3, 032316 (2016)