Talk by Orion Penner


Speaker: Orion Penner, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Title: The Returns to Scientific Specialization
Date: 11/16/2016
Time: 12:30pm
Room: Informatics East 322

Abstract: While it is well established that researchers specialize, the extent to which they specialize has gone, largely, unexamined. We have developed an approach for measuring the extent to which a researcher is specialized, and in turn, use it to quantify the returns to specialization. In this we exploit a longitudinal dataset 50,000+ researchers, each starting his or her career 1975 or later. Analyzing this dataset we find there are significant returns to specialization. For example, at mean career age and publishing rate, a one-standard deviation increase in specialization leads to a 20 per cent increase in citations. We further show that the returns to specialization are greatest early in a researcher’s career and decrease as a researcher ages. Similarly, returns are greater when publishing at a lower rate and decrease at higher rates of publishing.

Bio: Orion Penner is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Chair of Innovation and IP Policy at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. His recent, current and future research largely focuses on the academic career trajectory. Prior to Switzerland, he spent three years at IMT Lucca carrying out research, broadly speaking, on the Economics of Science and Innovation. He earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Calgary, working on problems in complex systems, networks and bioinformatics. He currently holds a Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione grant, having previously held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at IMT Lucca and an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship during his PhD.