How many is too many? : on the relationship between research productivity and impact
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofPLoS one ; vol. 11, no. 9.
Publisher(s)Public library of science
Over the last few decades, the institutionalisation of quantitative research evaluations has created incentives for scholars to publish as many papers as possible. This paper assesses the effects of such incentives on individual researchers’ scientific impact, by analysing the relationship between their number of articles and their proportionof highly cited papers. In other words, does the share of an author’s top 1% most cited papers increase, remain stable, or decrease as his/her total number of papers increase? Using a large dataset of disambiguated researchers (N = 28,078,476) over the 1980–2013 period, this paper shows that, on average, the higher the number of papers a researcher publishes, the higher the proportion of these papers are amongst the most cited. This relationship is stronger for older cohorts of researchers, while decreasing returns to scale are observed for recent cohorts. On the whole, these results suggest that for established researchers, the strategy of publishing as many papers as possible did not yield lower shares of highly cited publications, but such a pattern is not always observed for younger scholars.