End the duopoly

Nobel prize-winning work is concentrated in minority of scientific fields

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain From 1995 to 2017, work that was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine, Physics, or Chemistry clustered in just a few scientific disciplines. John Ioannidis of Stanford University and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on July 29, 2020.

Widely considered the most illustrious award in science, the Nobel Prize recognizes work that has remarkable impact. While most work in natural sciences or biomedicine could theoretically be eligible, some might argue that certain fields are more deserving. Regardless, such debate would benefit from better understanding of whether certain fields are indeed honored more than others.

To clarify whether Nobel prizes tend to go to certain fields, Ioannidis and colleagues selected the key Nobel prize -related paper published by each scientific laureate honored from 1995 through 2017. Then, they noted where each of these publications falls in a map of scientific fields created from 63 million papers published in the same timeframe. The data came from Scopus, a comprehensive database of scientific publications.

This analysis revealed that, out of 114 scientific fields , five ( particle physics , atomic physics , cell biology , neuroscience, and molecular chemistry) account for more than half of the […]

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