For scientists, early to press means success

September 19, 2013

A provocative new study suggests it is straightforward to predict which academics will succeed as publishing scientists.

Those who publish earlier and more often while young are typically the long-term winners.

"For reasons that are not totally clear, some people just 'get' the game early in their careers, and it's these scientists who are most likely to keep on publishing strong research," said Professor Corey Bradshaw, Director, Ecological Modelling of the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.

"We were really surprised," said Professor William Laurance of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the study.

"It doesn't matter if you go to Harvard or a low-ranked university. If you begin publishing when you're still a graduate student, you are far more likely to succeed in the long run."

The team scrutinized more than 1400 biologists on four continents, and then selected 182 to study intensively.

They found the researchers varied greatly - by almost a hundred-fold - in the number of scientific articles they published during their careers.

Another finding was that women faced some disadvantages in publishing research, even those who overcame the well-documented attrition of senior female academics.

"Women have to jump a lot of hurdles in science," said Carolina Useche of the Humboldt Institute in Colombia. "Family responsibilities weigh heavily on them, and they don't seem to promote themselves as aggressively as some men do."

Language also plays a role, according to Ms Useche. "Those who grow up speaking and writing English have an advantage, because most are in English," she said.

The research team reached two key conclusions.

First, far too few women make it to the top in science, in large part because they do not, on average, publish as often as men.

"For , it's just not a level playing field, and we need to find ways to help them advance professionally," Professor Bradshaw said.

Second, those who publish early and often are most likely to become scientific superstars, regardless of the international standing of the universities where they obtained their PhD.

"We need to pay a lot of attention to the early training of scientists," Professor Laurance said. "If we do a good job, we can give them a head start that will last their whole lives. This research gives us a good evidence base for our efforts."

Predicting publication success for biologists has been published online in BioScience.

Explore further: Research reveals low exposure of excellent work by female scientists

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1 / 5 (10) Sep 19, 2013
""It doesn't matter if you go to Harvard or a low-ranked university. If you begin publishing scientific articles when you're still a graduate student, you are far more likely to succeed in the long run."

What cave are these professors living in? I don't know about Down Under, but in the US, with rare exceptions, no legitimate university will give you a Ph.D. in bioscience without at least one first-authorship publication.

And then there's the standard bellyaching about women in science, and some duh "findings" about how publications are related to success in science. Gee, really?
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2013
For reasons that are not totally clear, some people just 'get' the publishing game early in their careers

Depends also to some degree on the advisor - as it is they who push a PhD student towards their first and/or frequent publications.

But, of course, good researchers will have stuff to publish earlier than mediocre ones. So I don't find it utterly surprising that early publishing scientists are more likely to become more prominent.

regardless of the international standing of the universities where they obtained their PhD

This is an interesting finding, as it indicates that ability is still the main factor that determines scientific success - not what 'cabal' you belong to (as some here seem to think)

The disadvantages for women in science is an issue that needs to be addrssed more seriously, though.
1 / 5 (8) Sep 20, 2013
Moreover, "if you go to Harvard" it will be possible to steal impudently in Nature journals and, with further support of the MIT's ones, in ASC Nano Lett both the ideas and money of taxpayers. There are numerous swindlers from David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Dept of Chem Engineering, also with Dept of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and School of Engineering and Applied Science of Harvard University at .
Their plagiaristic "masterpieces" titled Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues (DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3404) and Outside Looking In: Nanotube Transistor Intracellular Sensors ( were funded by NIH Director's Pioneer Award (1DP1OD003900) and a McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, also a Biotechnology Research Endowment from the Department of Anesthesiology at Children's Hospital Boston and NIH grant GM073626, DE013023, and DE016516.

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