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CSS Colloquium: Mathias Wullum Nielsen, University of Copenhagen

Quantifying institution- and country-related Matthew effects in science

Info about event


Wednesday 23 March 2022,  at 14:15 - 15:45


Aud. D4 (1531–219)


In his talk, Mathias Wullum Nielsen will present two papers:

Paper 1

Every year, thousands of European scientists leave their home countries to embark upon careers in the United States (US). Country- and discipline-specific studies indicate that transnational mobility may benefit scientific careers, but we lack a systematic census of the size of the ‘mobility premium’ for Europeans crossing the Atlantic. We followed a cohort of 178,621 early-career European scientists to identify individuals that moved to the US. We paired movers to non-mobile scientists with identical home institutions, research fields, and genders, giving a final sample of 3,978 researchers (1,989 matched pairs), whose performance was measured longitudinally over a decade (a total of 41,065 career years). Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we observed substantial increases in the publishing rates and scientific impact of transatlantic movers, compared to non-mobile scientists, immediately after the mobility event. While gains in citation impact were reserved for migrants moving to more prestigious research institutions, even scientists that descended in the institutional prestige hierarchy saw productivity increases after moving. The advantages associated with crossing the Atlantic appeared to be long-lasting, with performance gains persisting after five years. Overall, our study suggests substantial career benefits from transatlantic mobility and demonstrates the cumulative advantages tied to prestigious institutional locations.

Paper 2

Research suggests that scientists based at prestigious institutions receive more credit for their work than scientists based at less prestigious institutions, as do scientists working in certain countries. We examined the extent to which country- and institution-related status signals drive such differences in scientific recognition. In a preregistered survey experiment, we asked 4,147 scientists from six disciplines (astronomy, cardiology, materials science, political science, psychology and public health) to rate abstracts that varied on two factors: (i) author country (high status vs lower status in science); (ii) author institution (high status vs lower status university). We found only weak evidence of country- or institution-related status bias, and mixed regression models with discipline as random-effect parameter indicated that any plausible bias not detected by our study must be small in size.

Coffee, tea, cakes and fruit will be served before the colloquium at 2 pm.