They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Age-based stereotypes exist, even in scientific communities. But is age related to research productivity – and, if so, to what extent?
Victoria Samanidou |
The relationship between age and productivity is not a simple one to quantify. Older workers are assumed to be less effective and industrious than their younger colleagues when it comes to more physical tasks (1)(2). But what about science in particular?
In scientific communities, opinions on the net effect of age on productivity are varied. Several factors influence the productivity rate of researchers or academics; experience, health status, position, rank, and many more. It also begs the questions: what exactly is “productivity” and how do we measure it? In academic communities, it is often measured by the number of publications, along with the number of self-excluded citations and the h-index; the former relating to quantity and the latter to the quality and impact of the work. Do older scientists publish less or more? It is difficult to make an estimation – the determinants of individual productivity are extremely complex and I doubt whether typical metrics are in any way useful. However, I can say that authorship is not always directly related to actual productivity.
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