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Scientific Output and Recognition: A Study in the Operation of the Reward System in Science

Stephen Cole and Jonathan R. Cole
American Sociological Review
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Jun., 1967), pp. 377-390
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2091085
Page Count: 14
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Scientific Output and Recognition: A Study in the Operation of the Reward System in Science
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Abstract

The relationship between the quantity and quality of scientific output of 120 university physicists was studied. Although these two variables are highly correlated, some physicists produce many papers of little significance and others produce a few papers of great significance. The responses of the community of physicists to these distinct patterns of research publication were investigated. Quality of output is more significant than quantity in eliciting recognition through the receipt of awards, appointment to prestigious academic departments, and being widely known to one's colleagues. The reward system operates to encourage creative scientists to be highly productive, to divert the energies of less creative physicists into other channels, and to produce a higher correlation between quantity and quality of output in the top departments than in the weaker departments.

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