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Sci Rep. 2014 Apr 24;4:4770. doi: 10.1038/srep04770.

Career on the move: geography, stratification, and scientific impact.

Author information

1
1] Department of Applied Mathematics, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium [2] CCNR and Physics Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
2
1] CCNR and Physics Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA [2] IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, 10598, USA.
3
1] CCNR and Physics Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA [2] Center for Cancer Systems Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
4
1] CCNR and Physics Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA [2] Department of Physics, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA.
5
Department of Applied Mathematics, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.
6
1] CCNR and Physics Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA [2] Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115 [3] Center for Network Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.

Abstract

Changing institutions is an integral part of an academic life. Yet little is known about the mobility patterns of scientists at an institutional level and how these career choices affect scientific outcomes. Here, we examine over 420,000 papers, to track the affiliation information of individual scientists, allowing us to reconstruct their career trajectories over decades. We find that career movements are not only temporally and spatially localized, but also characterized by a high degree of stratification in institutional ranking. When cross-group movement occurs, we find that while going from elite to lower-rank institutions on average associates with modest decrease in scientific performance, transitioning into elite institutions does not result in subsequent performance gain. These results offer empirical evidence on institutional level career choices and movements and have potential implications for science policy.

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