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Scientific prizes and the extraordinary growth of scientific topics, Nature Communications


Fast growing scientific topics have famously been key harbingers of the new frontiers of science, yet, large-scale analyses of their genesis and impact are rare. We investigated one possible factor connected with a topic’s extraordinary growth: scientific prizes. Our longitudinal analysis of nearly all recognized prizes worldwide and over 11,000 scientific topics from 19 disciplines indicates that topics associated with a scientific prize experience extraordinary growth in productivity, impact, and new entrants. Relative to matched non-prizewinning topics, prizewinning topics produce 40% more papers and 33% more citations, retain 55% more scientists, and gain 37 and 47% more new entrants and star scientists, respectively, in the first five-to-ten years after the prize. Funding do not account for a prizewinning topic’s growth. Rather, growth is positively related to the degree to which the prize is discipline-specific, conferred for recent research, or has prize money. These findings reveal new dynamics behind scientific innovation and investment.




Ching Jin, Yifang Ma, Brian Uzzi

Date Published



Jin, Ching, Yifang Ma, and Brian Uzzi. 2021. Scientific prizes and the extraordinary growth of scientific topics. Nature Communications.


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