Research groups: How big should they be?

Cook, Isabelle, Grange, Sam and Eyre-Walker, Adam (2015) Research groups: How big should they be? PeerJ, 3. e989. ISSN 2167-8359

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Abstract

Understanding the relationship between scientific productivity and research group size is important for deciding how science should be funded. We have investigated the relationship between these variables in the life sciences in the United Kingdom using data from 398 principle investigators (PIs). We show that three measures of productivity, the number of publications, the impact factor of the journals in which papers are published and the number of citations, are all positively correlated to group size, although they all show a pattern of diminishing returns—doubling group size leads to less than a doubling in productivity. The relationships for the impact factor and the number of citations are extremely weak. Our analyses suggest that an increase in productivity will be achieved by funding more PIs with small research groups, unless the cost of employing post-docs and PhD students is less than 20% the cost of a PI. We also provide evidence that post-docs are more productive than PhD students both in terms of the number of papers they produce and where those papers are published.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Adam Eyre-Walker
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 10:57
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2017 03:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/59200

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