NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Reverse Matthew Effect: Catastrophe and Consequence in Scientific Teams

Ginger Zhe Jin, Benjamin Jones, Susan Feng Lu, Brian Uzzi

NBER Working Paper No. 19489
Issued in October 2013, Revised in June 2015
NBER Program(s):   LS   PR

Teamwork pervades modern economies, yet teamwork can make individual roles difficult to ascertain. In the sciences, the canonical "Matthew Effect" suggests that eminent team members garner credit for great works at the expense of less eminent team members. We study this phenomenon in reverse, investigating how damaging events, article retractions, affect citations to the authors' prior publications. We find that retractions impose little citation penalty on eminent coauthors, but less eminent coauthors face substantial citation declines, especially when teamed with an eminent author. This asymmetry suggests a "Reverse Matthew Effect" for team-produced catastrophes. A Bayesian model provides a candidate interpretation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19489

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