Fashion rules in physics

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
500,
Page:
113
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nj7460-113b
Published online

Trendy topics drive research pursuits.

Physicists are fad-followers who often pursue the fields with the highest number of recently published papers, says a study (T. Wei et al. Sci. Rep. 3, 2207; 2013). The metareview, of around 320,000 articles published by the American Physical Society's Physical Review journals from 1976 to 2009, also found that papers with many authors, which are common in some areas of physics, tend to be on 'hot' research topics. Working in a hot field can be a good strategy, says lead author Jinshan Wu, a physicist at Beijing Normal University, because it can increase citations, attention from peers and research funding. But, he notes, the scientific community can suffer if leaders are not exploring new directions.

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