We select 27,728,266 WOS papers of at least one citation published between 1954 and 2014. a, b, The distribution of disruption changes with team size (a); magnified versions of the grey area shown in b. c, We test differences in the distribution of disruption between each pair of team sizes from one to ten using a two-sample t-test. The t-statistics are given in green cells and the darkness of green is proportional to the size of each t-statistic. Asterisks under the numbers indicate P values. *P ≤ 0.05, **P ≤ 0.01, ***P ≤ 0.001. All pairs of tested disruption distributions significantly differ from one another. d, e, The distribution of citation changes with team size (d); magnified versions of the grey area shown in e. All figures clearly demonstrate how small teams oversample more disruptive and less impactful work. f, We test differences in the distribution of citations between team sizes using two-sample Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests, which are recommended for long-tailed distributed data. Numbers in cells show Kolmogorov–Smirnov statistics and the underlying asterisks indicate P values. All pairs of the tested citation distributions significantly differ from one another. Comparing disruption distributions with the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test reveals the same patterns of difference.