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
A. Vinayagama, T.E. Gibsonb, H.-J. Lee, B. Yilmazeld, C. Roeseld, Y. Hua, Y. Kwona, A. Sharma, Y.-Y. Liu, N. Perrimona, A.-L. Barabasi

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10.1073/pnas.1603992113, 1-6 (2016)

E. Guney, J. Menche, M. Vidal, A.-L. Barabási

Nature Communications 7:10331, 1-13 (2016)

B. Yucesoy, A.-L. Barabási

EPJ Data Science 5 (1), 17