Studying 5.6 million biomedical science articles published over three decades, we show that controlling for selective attrition reconciles conflicts in a longstanding, interdisciplinary literature. While research quality declines monotonically over the career, this decline is easily overlooked because the highest “ability” authors have the longest publishing careers. Our results have implications for broader questions of human capital accumulation over the career and also for federal research policies that shift funding from late- to early-career researchers – while providing more funding to researchers when they are most creative, these policies must be undertaken carefully because young researchers are less “able” on average.
(Joint work with Huifeng Yu, Gerald Marschke, Matthew B. Ross and Joseph Staudt)
Contact Person: Rainer Widmann