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Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding

Overview of attention for article published in PLoS ONE, June 2013
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#36 of 111,589)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (99th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
5 news outlets
blogs
17 blogs
policy
1 policy source
twitter
1202 tweeters
facebook
79 Facebook pages
googleplus
36 Google+ users
reddit
2 Redditors

Readers on

mendeley
319 Mendeley
citeulike
13 CiteULike
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Title
Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding
Published in
PLoS ONE, June 2013
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0065263
Pubmed ID
Authors

Jean-Michel Fortin, David J. Currie, Fortin JM, Currie DJ, Vincent Larivière

Abstract

is it more effective to give large grants to a few elite researchers, or small grants to many researchers? Large grants would be more effective only if scientific impact increases as an accelerating function of grant size. Here, we examine the scientific impact of individual university-based researchers in three disciplines funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). We considered four indices of scientific impact: numbers of articles published, numbers of citations to those articles, the most cited article, and the number of highly cited articles, each measured over a four-year period. We related these to the amount of NSERC funding received. Impact is positively, but only weakly, related to funding. Researchers who received additional funds from a second federal granting council, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, were not more productive than those who received only NSERC funding. Impact was generally a decelerating function of funding. Impact per dollar was therefore lower for large grant-holders. This is inconsistent with the hypothesis that larger grants lead to larger discoveries. Further, the impact of researchers who received increases in funding did not predictably increase. We conclude that scientific impact (as reflected by publications) is only weakly limited by funding. We suggest that funding strategies that target diversity, rather than "excellence", are likely to prove to be more productive.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 1,202 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 319 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 19 6%
Canada 10 3%
Portugal 6 2%
Germany 5 2%
Italy 5 2%
Brazil 5 2%
Spain 4 1%
United Kingdom 4 1%
France 4 1%
Other 31 10%
Unknown 226 71%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 82 26%
Student > Ph. D. Student 57 18%
Professor 42 13%
Professor > Associate Professor 36 11%
Other 27 8%
Other 75 24%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 132 41%
Social Sciences 30 9%
Psychology 20 6%
Computer Science 18 6%
Environmental Science 17 5%
Other 102 32%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1051. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 22 June 2017.
All research outputs
#1,462
of 7,943,431 outputs
Outputs from PLoS ONE
#36
of 111,589 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#17
of 123,615 outputs
Outputs of similar age from PLoS ONE
#2
of 3,691 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 7,943,431 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 111,589 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 10.3. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 123,615 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 3,691 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.