Nobel prize winning research papers

But challengers to this view point out that later-career scholars have deep knowledge and years of practice at solving complex problems. In the debate over the merits of youth and experience, it turns out both sides are a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

In a paper , Wang and other researchers discovered that the timing of when scientists publish their most significant papers—that is, those that are cited most often by other scientists—is random.

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Nobel Prize Winners—They’re Just Like Us!

In other words, a scientist is equally likely to have a hit paper at any point in his or her career. To answer this question, the researchers gathered the entire career histories of nearly all Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, and medicine from to , and looked at the sequence of publications to see if any patterns emerged. But when the researchers repeated the analysis with the Prize-winning papers removed, the pattern vanished. Given this, why do Nobelists nonetheless tend to produce their Prize-winning works early in their careers?

But the researchers think it is more likely that the committees that award Nobel Prizes, and the norms surrounding the Prize, favor papers from early career scientists. For instance, there tends to be a decades-long lag between the publication of the paper and the receipt of the Prize, and a Nobel Prize in science has never been awarded posthumously. Then, in light of the rapid rise in scientific publishing that occurred following World War II, we decided to analyze only the papers of laureates who won the prize from onward though note that numerous postwar prize recipients published their pivotal work well before the war.


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Finally, using the abstracting and indexing database Dimensions , we compiled year-by-year citation data for the remaining papers that have digital object identifiers. Nature is the only other journal that has published more than 10 Nobel-winning physics papers. But not all papers required high-impact journals to make an impact.

Some papers racked up hundreds of citations within a few years. Others took longer to gain attention, and some continue to languish in relative citation obscurity.

Contact information of Nobel Prize Committee

Still, Nobel-winning works generally attain far longer shelf lives than even the most-cited physics literature as a whole. Citations are a useful, if imperfect, way of tracking the impact of scientific papers. As Garfield and Welljams-Dorof demonstrated, counting citations can distinguish top researchers and their most influential work.

Nobel-Prize Winning Physics Explained Through Pastry

But citations can also mislead, particularly when one considers only the raw numbers. Literature related to fields with an outsize number of researchers can easily rack up far more citations than arguably more impactful papers in smaller fields of study. Papers introducing a method or technique, such as density functional theory, can outpace those describing the most famous discoveries see the article by Sid Redner, Physics Today , June , page To illustrate the explosion in science literature in the postwar period, consider the physics prize, which was awarded to Gerd Binnig, Heinrich Rohrer, and Ernst Ruska for advances in microscopy made a half century apart.

Publishing and citing practices have also changed more recently, particularly with the rise of the internet and publish-or-perish policies. Despite the multiple caveats, Nobel-winning papers do stand out from even well-cited physics literature as a whole. The researchers found that the average paper attracts its peak number of citations a few years after publication, but then the citation rate rapidly falls. Over time the rate of post-peak decline has slightly increased, a change Fortunato attributes to literature getting lost in the shuffle due to publication proliferation.

Papers that result in a Nobel Prize in Physics often follow a different citation trajectory, as the main graph in figure 2 shows. Like other popular physics papers, they tend to reach a peak within a few years and then begin to steadily decline.

Nobel Prize

But after bottoming out 20 years or so after publication, they experience a resurgence. Some of that bounce may be due to the spotlight the papers receive following the awarding of the Nobel Prize. Perhaps the simplest conclusion is that papers that result in a Nobel gain prestige over time because of the outsize influence they have on future research, with some of those impacts not obvious at the time the paper is published.

But many others, including some a century old, reached their maximum only within the past decade. They have a book out in November called " Good Economics for Hard Times ," which investigates the most effective methods for deploying capital toward the world's most challenging problems, from climate change to inequality. Duflo and Kremer also collaborated on a paper in that explains in detail the way they've used randomization to change development economics.

And finally, the Nobel committee has published an essay that shows the way the trio's work is synthesized. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Richard Feloni. This story requires our BI Prime membership. Esther Duflo of MIT has worked with Banerjee to show the need for data-based experiments in the field.