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3 - The Matthew Effect

from Part I - The Science of Career

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2021

Dashun Wang
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Illinois
Albert-László Barabási
Affiliation:
Northeastern University, Boston
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Summary

In this chapter we define and detail the Matthew effect, exploring the role that status plays in success. We use the absence and presence of Lord Rayleigh’s authorship on a paper to introduce the idea of reputation signaling, and look at how reputation signaling plays out in randomized control experiments. We then discuss the implications of reputation signaling for both single and double-blind review processes. We find that the Matthew effect applies not just to scientists themselves, but also to their papers through a process known as preferential attachment. To see how an author’s reputation affects the impact of her publications, we look at how her citation patterns deviate from what preferential attachment would predict. We also explore the drivers behind the Matthew effect, asking whether status alone dictates outcomes or whether it reflects inherent talent.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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