Age stratification and cohort effects in scholarly communication : a study of social sciences
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofScientometrics ; vol. 109, no. 2, pp. 997-1016.
Aging is considered to be an important factor in a scholar’s propensity to innovate, produce, and collaborate on high quality work. Yet, empirical studies in the area are rare and plagued with several limitations. As a result, we lack clear evidence on the relationship between aging and scholarly communication activities and impact. To this end, we study the complete publication profiles of more than 1000 authors across three fields—sociology, economics, and political science—to understand the relationship between aging, productivity, collaboration, and impact. Furthermore, we analyze multiple operationalizations of aging, to determine which is more closely related to observable changes in scholarly communication behavior. The study demonstrates that scholars remain highly productive across the life-span of the career (i.e., 40 years), and that productivity increases steeply until promotion to associate professor and then remains stable. Collaboration increases with age and has increased over time. Lastly, a scholar’s work obtains its highest impact directly around promotion and then decreases over time. Finally, our results suggest a statistically significant relationship between rank of the scholar and productivity, collaboration, and impact. These results inform our understanding of the scientific workforce and the production of science.