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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)