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Rate of Publishing for the Typical Prof Over a Lifetime?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by qwopty99, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. qwopty99

    qwopty99 Optometrist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2006
    hi folks

    imagine a prof in the sciences, what is the typical publication rate for the average to good Prof over a lifetime? like, we would expect a pub rate for older profs to be higher than newer profs, cause by then we would expect them to have their own lab and grad students, post-docs working under them right?

    so can anyone guesstimate a timeline publication rate for the average prolific prof?

    18-25 (1-2 pubs here - undergrad to masters)
    25-30 (2-3 pubs - PhD)
    30-35 (3-4 postdocking)
    35-45 (2/year, tenuring)
    45-55 (3/year PI)
    55+ (4/year?)

    anyone care to guess?
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  3. mtlove

    mtlove 2+ Year Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    I think it varies a lot by person, area of research, and size of lab.

    Food for thought:

    My PI is in his late 60s. He has been at NIH for over 40 years, and he is a National Academy of science member. He has less than 120 publications in his career, and he only puts out a few each year.

    My clinical mentor is a lot younger (40-50s) and is not as well known as my PI. His lab is very large and he has over 600 publications in his career and puts out tons a year (over 30 last year).
  4. j-weezy

    j-weezy MS1 2+ Year Member

    Aug 9, 2006
    I totally agree. Lab size is a huge factor. If you have 25 people working under you and say maybe half of them have 1 article per year, that's about 12 - 13 articles per year for the PI minimum - not including review articles etc. Of course type of research matters as well. I work in a lab that does both straight up protein stuff and cell culture. The people who work on protein-protein (or protein-RNA) research can bust out one major experiment a week. The people who work on cell culture can maybe get one experiment per month due to the selection scheme and life cycle of human/mammalian cells. The difference in time scale is manifested further in the number of papers published per year - protein people have way more papers than the human cell people.
  5. Faebinder

    Faebinder Slow Wave Smurf 10+ Year Member

    May 24, 2006
    This year, my professor of surgery/mentor just reached 200 published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

    He is a workaholic and not the norm in his profession. I'm hoping to be at his level some day... but it seems like a full professor of surgery at the age of 50 usually has around 70+ publications. This is my observation from other active professors around the department.

    On the other hand, it sounds like a professor of surgery has a lower publication rate than the normal professor of <insert your favorite specialty>.

    Lab size and TEAM size is a huge factor... 10 students produce say 10 articles which is more than 5 students producing 5 articles.
  6. mjs

    mjs Millionaire, Superhero 7+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2002
    The number of publications in a career is variable and very hard to interpret. Why are you asking?
  7. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor 2+ Year Member

    Feb 16, 2007
    On the interview route, at Hopkins they said the range of publications for graduates was between 2 and 25+ during their PhD work.
  8. meowkat444

    meowkat444 10+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    i agree... varies a lot. just out of curiosity, why do you ask? planning to break a record? ;)
  9. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor 2+ Year Member

    Feb 16, 2007
    I didn't, another applicant did during the 'interviewee lunch' with the director.
  10. j-weezy

    j-weezy MS1 2+ Year Member

    Aug 9, 2006
    I think the rate of publishing may be more important to those of us at the beginning stages of our careers. A more accurate representation of one's influence on the scientific community is probably better estimated by how often one's work is cited. It's one thing to publish alot, it's another thing to publish high quality research that other scientists can use/learn from and therefore cite in their own work.
  11. qwopty99

    qwopty99 Optometrist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2006
    >I think the rate of publishing may be more important to those of us at the beginning stages of our careers.

    that's sort of the dilemna though isn't it? we publish most when we least need to (at the end of our careers), and least at the beginning (when fighting for tenureship).

    is there a way around this? is there a way to up the pubs during the years of tenureship somehow? cause if ur working alone, getting 2-3 out a year isn't bad. but this obviously can't compare to the output of a lab of 25 people (like what some posters above refer to).

    btw - can anyone imagine how someone can pull of 25+ pubs during their PhD?
  12. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    It's just the way the game goes - it's no dilemma. When you start out, you don't have experience running a lab and, therefore, no track record. Why should a funding agency risk giving you a bunch of money when you haven't proven yourself? It sucks and it is a difficult process, but that's the way it goes. Most new PIs get smaller grants from specialty societies (AHA, ADA) or get in on a institutional mentoring grant before getting an RO1. One way to get more papers (although not as the corresponding author on all of them) is to strike up collaborations with other labs - ones with good track records.

    You don't have to publish 25 papers a year to be competitive. You need to publish good data that creates a cool story - consistently. I know of several professors that put out 3-4 papers a year and are well-funded. It all depends on where you are and what kind of lab you want. Some people don't want a lot of people working for them, while others want an army.

    I know a grad student who got his name on 22 publications because he did a technique that other labs were interested in, but did not want to set up. So, he would contribute 1 figure to a bunch of labs and get on the papers. He only had 3 first-author papers.

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