Home Science news Half of Nobel prizes in science go to just five research fields

Half of Nobel prizes in science go to just five research fields

Nobel prizes go to scientists in a slender vary of fields

Kay Nietfeld / Alamy

Just five research fields scooped up greater than half of the Nobel prizes for science awarded in current a long time, in accordance to an evaluation exposing an “honours inequality” which may be skewing research funding.

John Ioannidis at Stanford University in California says he suspected that essentially the most prestigious awards in science have been clustering in sure fields, nevertheless it wasn’t till he and his colleagues combed by way of the Nobel winners from between 1995 and 2017 that the image turned clear.

The crew discovered work on particle physics, cell biology, atomic physics, neuroscience and molecular chemistry accounted for 52.four per cent of the Nobel prizes for chemistry, medication and physics over the interval. Only 36 of 114 scientific fields have been honoured, leaving every little thing from respiratory ailments to planetary science excluded.


“It would be absurd to expect that all fields in science are having an equal chance of making ground-breaking discoveries and major advances. At the same time, it is also likely that there is some self-reinforcing mechanism that promotes the same fields again and again,” says Ioannidis.

He says the chance is that self-reinforcement drives cash to a restricted quantity of fields and skews what essentially the most influential scientific journals select to publish, exacerbating the issue. Researchers working in shunned fields would possibly deem the scenario “grossly unfair”, Ioannidis and colleagues say.

The researchers additionally recognized one key paper per Nobel laureate. They discovered that inside a yr of every “Nobel paper” being revealed, a mean of 435 different scientific papers have been revealed which have finally turned out to be extra closely cited, suggesting a lot of science not recognised by the Nobel committee is definitely extra influential. The single exception was the 2004 paper on the discovery of graphene.

Andre Geim at University of Manchester in the UK, one of the authors of the paper about graphene, says he was glad it was the exception however says the pattern is simple to clarify. “Breakthrough results rarely come in a nice wrapping. Follow-up papers tend to be more accurate and complete, easy to read and understand, which makes them more citable,” he says. One purpose for the prizes clustering in a couple of fields is that scientific progress is “never smooth or uniform”, he says.

Ioannidis says there are limits to the evaluation. It is usually onerous to determine a single paper because the epitome of the work for a Nobel, he says, and a few disciplines might generally just not be very related for the three science awards. He suggests one repair would be the creation of new awards, however says the Nobel committee ought to brainstorm options.

Journal reference: PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234612


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