January 23, 2022

Journal Article: “The Chaperone Effect in Scientific Publishing”

The following article was recently published by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).


The Chaperone Effect In Scientific Publishing


Vedran Sekara

Pierre Deville

Sebastian Ahnert

Albert-László Barabási

Roberta Sinatra

Sune Lehmann



Experience plays a critical role in crafting high impact scientific work. This is particularly evident in top multidisciplinary journals, where a scientist is unlikely to appear as senior author if they have not previously published within the same journal. Here, we develop a quantitative understanding of author order by quantifying this ‘Chaperone Effect’, capturing how scientists transition into senior status within a particular publication venue. We illustrate that the chaperone effect has different magnitude for journals in different branches of science, being more pronounced in medical and biological sciences and weaker in natural sciences. Finally, we show that in the case of high-impact venues, the chaperone effect has significant implications, specifically resulting in a higher average impact relative to papers authored by new PIs. Our findings shed light on the role played by experience in publishing within specific scientific journals, on the paths towards acquiring the necessary experience and expertise, and on the skills required to publish in prestigious venues.

Direct to Full Text Article ||| PDF Version (5 pages; PDF)

Direct to Supporting Data (6 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.