The fresh work of those outside their fields ➶

From the abstract of a paper by Feng Shi and James Evans that suggests the most impactful work is produced by people working outside their disciplines, “a physicist doing biology, to give one example”:

Drawing on tens of millions of research papers and patents across the life sciences, physical sciences and patented inventions, and using a hypergraph model that predicts realized combinations of research contents (article keywords) and contexts (cited journals), here we show that surprise in terms of unexpected combinations of contents and contexts predicts outsized impact (within the top 10% of citations). These surprising advances emerge across, rather than within researchers or teams—most commonly when scientists from one field publish problem-solving results to an audience from a distant field.

Via Rivka Galchen in The New Yorker.

✶ Saturday, 8 June 2024

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