Scientists hit their creative peak early in their careers: Less innovative researchers drop out, study finds

A new study provides the best evidence to date that scientists overall are most innovative and creative early in their careers.

Findings showed that, on one important measure, the impact of biomedical scientists’ published work drops by between one-half to two-thirds over the course of their careers.

“That’s a huge decline in impact,” said Bruce Weinberg, co-author of the study and professor of economics at The Ohio State University.

“We found that as they get older, the work of biomedical scientists was just not as innovative and impactful.”

But the reasons behind this trend of declining innovativeness make the findings more nuanced and show why it is still important to support scientists later in their careers, Weinberg said.

The study was published online Oct. 7, 2022 in the Journal of Human Resources.

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