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The chaperone effect in scientific publishing.

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Sekara, Vedran 
Deville, Pierre 
Ahnert, Sebastian E 
Barabási, Albert-László 
Sinatra, Roberta 


Experience plays a critical role in crafting high-impact scientific work. This is particularly evident in top multidisciplinary journals, where a scientist is unlikely to appear as senior author if he or she has not previously published within the same journal. Here, we develop a quantitative understanding of author order by quantifying this "chaperone effect," capturing how scientists transition into senior status within a particular publication venue. We illustrate that the chaperone effect has a different magnitude for journals in different branches of science, being more pronounced in medical and biological sciences and weaker in natural sciences. Finally, we show that in the case of high-impact venues, the chaperone effect has significant implications, specifically resulting in a higher average impact relative to papers authored by new principal investigators (PIs). Our findings shed light on the role played by experience in publishing within specific scientific journals, on the paths toward acquiring the necessary experience and expertise, and on the skills required to publish in prestigious venues.



mentorship, science of science, scientific careers

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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National Academy of Sciences
Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GAT3395/CCD)
This work was supported by Air Force Office of Scientific Research grants FA9550-15-1-0077 and FA9550- 15-1-0364 (A.-L.B. and R.S.), The European Commission, H2020 Framework program, Grant 641191 CIMPLEX, The Templeton Foundation (R.S., A.-L.B.), and the ITI project ‘Just Data’ funded by Central European University (R.S.), The Villum Foundation (S.L.), The Independent Research Fund Denmark (S.L.). R.S. thanks Michael Szell for useful discussions and feedback, and Alex Gates for support with the Web of Science data.