Scientific prizes and the extraordinary growth of scientific topics

Ching Jin, Yifang Ma, Brian Uzzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Fast growing scientific topics have famously been key harbingers of the new frontiers of science, yet, large-scale analyses of their genesis and impact are rare. We investigated one possible factor connected with a topic’s extraordinary growth: scientific prizes. Our longitudinal analysis of nearly all recognized prizes worldwide and over 11,000 scientific topics from 19 disciplines indicates that topics associated with a scientific prize experience extraordinary growth in productivity, impact, and new entrants. Relative to matched non-prizewinning topics, prizewinning topics produce 40% more papers and 33% more citations, retain 55% more scientists, and gain 37 and 47% more new entrants and star scientists, respectively, in the first five-to-ten years after the prize. Funding do not account for a prizewinning topic’s growth. Rather, growth is positively related to the degree to which the prize is discipline-specific, conferred for recent research, or has prize money. These findings reveal new dynamics behind scientific innovation and investment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5619
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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