Researchers’ risk-smoothing publication strategies: Is productivity the enemy of impact?

Sergey Kolesnikov, Eriko Fukumoto, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In the quest for balance between research productivity and impact, researchers in science and engineering are often encouraged to adopt a play-it-safe research and publication strategy that allows them to maintain high publication productivity and accelerate their career advancement but may reduce the likelihood of high impact or breakthrough research outcomes. In this paper, we analyze bibliometric data from Scopus and present results for the relationship between publication strategies, publishing productivity and citation-based publication impact for 227 full professors of chemistry and 148 professors of mechanical engineering at ten research-intensive universities in the United States. The results indicate some evidence for the “productivity as the enemy of impact” hypothesis in chemistry, where publishing at the higher margin of productivity leads to a stagnant or declining publication impact. Findings differ for mechanical engineering, where higher publishing productivity consistently leads to higher publication impact. We attribute the differences in findings between the disciplines to a higher propensity for productivity-focused publication strategies in chemistry than in mechanical engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1995-2017
Number of pages23
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Citation impact
  • Publication productivity
  • Publication strategy
  • Research strategy
  • Risk aversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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