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6 - The Q-Factor

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

The random impact rule allows us to build a null model of a career. Using the null model, we can examine what a scientific career looks like when its driven by chance alone. We call this the R-model. But the R-model only accounts for differences in productivity, not differences in ability or talent. In response to this discrepancy, we create the Q-model, which assumes that the impact of papers we publish is determined by two factors, luck and a Q parameter unique to each person. We can then calculate how a person’s highest impact paper is expected to change with productivity. We find that the Q-model’s predictions are in excellent agreement with real world data. In fact, the Q parameter alone seems sufficient to explain what differentiates one scientist from another. We also find that it remains relatively stable over the course of a career. We then show how we calculate the Q factor for individual scientists, how we can use their Q factor to predict their impact, and how doing so provides a more accurate forecast of a scientist’s future impact than the h-index can. In the case of great scientists, we see that the Q factor turns luck into a consistently high impact career.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • The Q-Factor
  • Dashun Wang, Northwestern University, Illinois, Albert-László Barabási, Northeastern University, Boston
  • Book: The Science of Science
  • Online publication: 07 February 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108610834.008
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  • The Q-Factor
  • Dashun Wang, Northwestern University, Illinois, Albert-László Barabási, Northeastern University, Boston
  • Book: The Science of Science
  • Online publication: 07 February 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108610834.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Q-Factor
  • Dashun Wang, Northwestern University, Illinois, Albert-László Barabási, Northeastern University, Boston
  • Book: The Science of Science
  • Online publication: 07 February 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108610834.008
Available formats
×