Atypical combinations and scientific impact

Brian Uzzi, Satyam Mukherjee, Michael Stringer, Ben Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

490 Scopus citations

Abstract

Novelty is an essential feature of creative ideas, yet the building blocks of new ideas are often embodied in existing knowledge. From this perspective, balancing atypical knowledge with conventional knowledge may be critical to the link between innovativeness and impact. Our analysis of 17.9 million papers spanning all scientific fields suggests that science follows a nearly universal pattern: The highest-impact science is primarily grounded in exceptionally conventional combinations of prior work yet simultaneously features an intrusion of unusual combinations. Papers of this type were twice as likely to be highly cited works. Novel combinations of prior work are rare, yet teams are 37.7% more likely than solo authors to insert novel combinations into familiar knowledge domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-472
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume342
Issue number6157
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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