Task specialization across research careers

Nicolas Robinson-Garcia*, Rodrigo Costas, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Vincent Larivière, Gabriela F. Nane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Research careers are typically envisioned as a single path in which a scientist starts as a member of a team working under the guidance of one or more experienced scientists and, if they are successful, ends with the individual leading their own research group and training future generations of scientists. Here we study the author contribution statements of published research papers in order to explore possible biases and disparities in career trajectories in science. We used Bayesian networks to train a prediction model based on a dataset of 70,694 publications from PLoS journals, which included 347,136 distinct authors and their associated contribution statements. This model was used to predict the contributions of 222,925 authors in 6,236,239 publications, and to apply a robust archetypal analysis to profile scientists across four career stages: junior, early-career, mid-career and late-career. All three of the archetypes we found-leader, specialized, and supporting-were encountered for early-career and mid-career researchers. Junior researchers displayed only two archetypes (specialized, and supporting), as did late-career researchers (leader and supporting). Scientists assigned to the leader and specialized archetypes tended to have longer careers than those assigned to the supporting archetype. We also observed consistent gender bias at all stages: the majority of male scientists belonged to the leader archetype, while the larger proportion of women belonged to the specialized archetype, especially for early-career and mid-career researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60586
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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  • LEaDing Fellows

    Gutierrez, A., Dols Perez, A., Bae, D., Sahoo, H., Wang, W., Lam, K. L., Raimondo, A., Steffelbauer, D. B., Lesne, E. L., Ragno, E., Amador, G. J., Šiaudinyte, L., Sand, M., Robinson Garcia, N., Abil, Z., Purkarthofer, E., Noardo, F., Tasić, J. K., Marin, L., Angeloni, L., loddo, M., Stockill, R. H. J., Franklin, S. W., Hensen, B. J., Dennis, M. J., Afroza Islam, S. T., Kim, T., Manzaneque Garcia, T., Tiringer, U., Marques Penha, F., Esteban Jurado, C., Timmermans, E., McCrum, I. T., Pool, F., Forn-Cuní, G., Will, G., Barrett, H. E., Everett, J. A. C., Kostenzer, J., Luksenburg, J., Hirvasniemi, J., Desai, J., Ruibal, P., Albury, N. J., March, R., Eichengreen, A., Muok, A. R., Cochrane, A., Ravesteijn, B., Riumalló Herl, C. J., Meeusen, C., Biaggi, C., Granger, C., Cecil, C., Fosch Villaronga, E., Sánchez López, E. S., Loehrer, E., da Costa Gonçalves, F., Giardina, F., Wu, H., Gleitz, H. & Khatri, I.


    Project: Research

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