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World Wide ResearchReshaping the Sciences and Humanities$
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William H. Dutton and Paul W. Jeffreys

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014397

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014397.001.0001

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1.3 “Superstar” Concentrations of Scientific Output and Recognition

1.3 “Superstar” Concentrations of Scientific Output and Recognition

(p.48) 1.3 “Superstar” Concentrations of Scientific Output and Recognition
World Wide Research

Robert Ackland

The MIT Press

In large-scale networks such as the World Wide Web, the distribution of hyperlinks appears to follow a “power law,” with a large number of hyperlinks directed toward a small number of websites (known as “in-links”) and very few in-links directed toward the vast majority of sites. According to the preferential attachment model, power laws can be observed in a growing network where new nodes tend to link to existing popular nodes having a high number of in-links. This chapter examines the “economics of superstars,” a concept used to explain why scientific output among a few individuals is concentrated in certain fields such as sport and the arts, while income distribution is strongly skewed and rewards tend to be very large at the top. It argues that the emergence of power laws on the Web and other digital networks can be attributed to the economics of superstars and explains how e-Research might alter the research landscape through research superstars. It also considers the role of cyberinfrastructure in facilitating the emergence of superstar scientists.

Keywords:   power laws, economics of superstars, in-links, hyperlinks, e-Research, cyberinfrastructure, superstar scientists, digital networks, World Wide Web

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