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Exploring the role of interdisciplinarity in physics: Success, talent and luck

Author

Listed:
  • Alessandro Pluchino
  • Giulio Burgio
  • Andrea Rapisarda
  • Alessio Emanuele Biondo
  • Alfredo Pulvirenti
  • Alfredo Ferro
  • Toni Giorgino

Abstract

Although interdisciplinarity is often touted as a necessity for modern research, the evidence on the relative impact of sectorial versus to interdisciplinary science is qualitative at best. In this paper we leverage the bibliographic data set of the American Physical Society to quantify the role of interdisciplinarity in physics, and that of talent and luck in achieving success in scientific careers. We analyze a period of 30 years (1980-2009) tagging papers and their authors by means of the Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme (PACS), to show that some degree of interdisciplinarity is quite helpful to reach success, measured as a proxy of either the number of articles or the citations score. We also propose an agent-based model of the publication-reputation-citation dynamics which reproduces the trends observed in the APS data set. On the one hand, the results highlight the crucial role of randomness and serendipity in real scientific research; on the other, they shed light on a counterintuitive effect indicating that the most talented authors are not necessarily the most successful ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Pluchino & Giulio Burgio & Andrea Rapisarda & Alessio Emanuele Biondo & Alfredo Pulvirenti & Alfredo Ferro & Toni Giorgino, 2019. "Exploring the role of interdisciplinarity in physics: Success, talent and luck," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(6), pages 1-15, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0218793
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218793
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gregg E A Solomon & Stephen Carley & Alan L Porter, 2016. "How Multidisciplinary Are the Multidisciplinary Journals Science and Nature?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(4), pages 1-12, April.
    2. Alessio Emanuele Biondo & Alessandro Pluchino & Andrea Rapisarda & Dirk Helbing, 2013. "Are Random Trading Strategies More Successful than Technical Ones?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(7), pages 1-13, July.
    3. Matthieu Cristelli & Andrea Gabrielli & Andrea Tacchella & Guido Caldarelli & Luciano Pietronero, 2013. "Measuring the Intangibles: A Metrics for the Economic Complexity of Countries and Products," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(8), pages 1-20, August.
    4. Alessio Emanuele Biondo & Alessandro Pluchino & Andrea Rapisarda, 2014. "Micro and Macro Benefits of Random Investments in Financial Markets," Papers 1405.5805, arXiv.org.
    5. A. E. Biondo & A. Pluchino & A. Rapisarda & D. Helbing, 2013. "Are random trading strategies more successful than technical ones?," Papers 1303.4351, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2013.
    6. Alessio Emanuele Biondo & Alessandro Pluchino & Andrea Rapisarda & Dirk Helbing, 2013. "Reducing Financial Avalanches By Random Investments," Papers 1309.3639, arXiv.org, revised Nov 2013.
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