Scientist career path: An explorative analysis

Project dates: 01/02/2018 - Ongoing

Science and innovation are the most significant engines of a nation’s long run sustainable economic growth and prosperity. One important avenue for understanding scientific development and innovation is scientific endeavour, as represented by scientific career paths. The proposed study will thus examine the major driving forces of scientists’ careers, including key points over the life-cycle (e.g. key positive or negative events or changes), collaboration dynamics, creative development or innovative activities, and success (measured by number and quality of publications, citations, and patents).

Why is this important?

Studying the science of science, understanding how scientific ideas develop and spread, is necessary if we are to hasten the innovation process. We use econometric approaches to follow the career progression of academics, particularly the effect of prizes and awards on their future research outputs, impact and collaborations. Although every research endeavour aims to expand the frontiers of science and innovation, empirical evidence on and comprehension of the dynamics underlying scientific careers is limited. This project will expand this knowledge by uncovering valuable new insights on both the research landscape and the scientists and their interactions.

What we aim to do

At the core of our analysis will be such aspects as scientists’ resilience to both positive and negative life event shocks, as well as to environmental conditions and changes; patterns of collaboration and co-operation; the characteristics of innovators or followers and their environment, and how ideas emerge and disappear. To this end, we will also explore how performance and success are linked to collaborative relationships and mentoring, or perhaps driven by ‘catalysts’; that is, scientists who evoke better performance in others. Covering this range of important factors in scientific careers adds rigor, allowing exploration of a plethora of new ideas and providing a substantial number of new empirical insights in an area in which evidence is limited. This project will thus contribute to a better understanding of the scientific process. The project will benefit from our recent ARC DP grant through which we collaborate with leading scholars in that field, working at universities and organizations such as Yale, UCLA or the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna. Methodologically, the aim is to generate the largest panel data set on scientists ever collected and analysed.


For more information about this project please email 

Funding / Grants

  • Funded by ARC DP180101169

Chief Investigators


Other Team Members

  • A/Prof Ali Önder
  • Prof Jonathan Feinstein – Yale University
  • Prof Dr Martin Kocher
  • Asst Prof Jana Gallus

Related Events


  • Chan, Ben, Mixon, Franklin, Torgler, Benno (2019) Fame in the sciences: a culturomics approach Scientometrics, 118 (2), pp.605-615.
  • Frijters, Paul, Torgler, Benno (2019) Improving the peer review process: a proposed market system Scientometrics, 119 (2), pp.1285-1288.
  • Bi, Weilong, Chan, Ben, Torgler, Benno (2019) Self-esteem, self-symbolizing, and academic recognition: behavioral evidence from curricula vitae Scientometrics, 119 (1), pp.495-525.
  • Ong, David, Chan, Ben, Torgler, Benno, Yang, Yu (Alan) (2018) Collaboration incentives: Endogenous selection into single and coauthorships by surname initial in economics and management Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 147, pp.41-57.
  • Chan, Ben, Mixon, Franklin, Torgler, Benno (2018) Relation of early career performance and recognition to the probability of winning the Nobel Prize in economics Scientometrics, 114 (3), pp.1069-1086.