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I think at least part of the answer lies in different cultures across fields. I did my PhD in computer science/artificial intelligence. There a huge focus is on conference papers which tend to be smaller contributions. Often incremental progress on a single project is reported in multiple conference papers and it was expected that a paper corresponds to several months worth of work. Frequently you would publish in a conference and then have an extended version appear in a journal. All in all, 5 first-author papers upon PhD was not exceptional. Also we had a lot of within-group collaboration so I got to e.g. run a few statistical routines on someone else's data, help write the manuscript and become a coauthor for about a week of work. I ended my PhD with 23 publications, 8 of which were first-author - this was above average in my group, but not exceptional.

Now I do bioinformatics and collaborate a lot with biologists. Their papers are usually longer and for any result you need a lot of actualtedious manual work in the lab. In turn, the papers represent years worth of work. Many people - even brilliant ones - end their PhD with 1-3 first-author publications. I've heard in some areas, publications are even harder to come by. In other words, the number of publications is not a very good proxy for brilliance, especially when you are ignoring quality and comparing across fields.

As for the 100+ citations - my best bet (since you mention bioinformatics) is that this is because the students co-authored some software/tool/protocol that ended up being useful => cited. (tool papers tend to be the most cited ones). This is obviously a success, but once again does not necessarily imply that failing to produce useful tools is a sign of non-brilliance.

Example: DeSeq2 software for comparing gene expression across samples has > 10 000 citations on Google scholar while the first detection of gravitational waves has just above 6 000 citations on Google Scholar.

Also me and some of my colleagus have landed reasonable jobs with roughly 0 citations (excluding self).

I think at least part of the answer lies in different cultures across fields. I did my PhD in computer science/artificial intelligence. There a huge focus is on conference papers which tend to be smaller contributions. Often incremental progress on a single project is reported in multiple conference papers and it was expected that a paper corresponds to several months worth of work. Frequently you would publish in a conference and then have an extended version appear in a journal. All in all, 5 first-author papers upon PhD was not exceptional. Also we had a lot of within-group collaboration so I got to e.g. run a few statistical routines on someone else's data and become a coauthor. I ended my PhD with 23 publications, 8 of which were first-author - this was above average in my group, but not exceptional.

Now I do bioinformatics and collaborate a lot with biologists. Their papers are usually longer and for any result you need a lot of actual manual work in the lab. In turn, the papers represent years worth of work. Many people - even brilliant ones - end their PhD with 1-3 first-author publications. I've heard in some areas, publications are even harder to come by. In other words, the number of publications is not a very good proxy for brilliance, especially when you are ignoring quality and comparing across fields.

As for the 100+ citations - my best bet (since you mention bioinformatics) is that this is because the students co-authored some software/tool/protocol that ended up being useful => cited. (tool papers tend to be the most cited ones). This is obviously a success, but once again does not necessarily imply that failing to produce useful tools is a sign of non-brilliance.

Example: DeSeq2 software for comparing gene expression across samples has > 10 000 citations on Google scholar while the first detection of gravitational waves has just above 6 000 citations on Google Scholar.

Also me and some of my colleagus have landed reasonable jobs with roughly 0 citations (excluding self).

I think at least part of the answer lies in different cultures across fields. I did my PhD in computer science/artificial intelligence. There a huge focus is on conference papers which tend to be smaller contributions. Often incremental progress on a single project is reported in multiple conference papers and it was expected that a paper corresponds to several months worth of work. Frequently you would publish in a conference and then have an extended version appear in a journal. All in all, 5 first-author papers upon PhD was not exceptional. Also we had a lot of within-group collaboration so I got to e.g. run a few statistical routines on someone else's data, help write the manuscript and become a coauthor for about a week of work. I ended my PhD with 23 publications, 8 of which were first-author - this was above average in my group, but not exceptional.

Now I do bioinformatics and collaborate a lot with biologists. Their papers are usually longer and for any result you need a lot of tedious manual work in the lab. In turn, the papers represent years worth of work. Many people - even brilliant ones - end their PhD with 1-3 first-author publications. I've heard in some areas, publications are even harder to come by. In other words, the number of publications is not a very good proxy for brilliance, especially when you are ignoring quality and comparing across fields.

As for the 100+ citations - my best bet (since you mention bioinformatics) is that this is because the students co-authored some software/tool/protocol that ended up being useful => cited. (tool papers tend to be the most cited ones). This is obviously a success, but once again does not necessarily imply that failing to produce useful tools is a sign of non-brilliance.

Example: DeSeq2 software for comparing gene expression across samples has > 10 000 citations on Google scholar while the first detection of gravitational waves has just above 6 000 citations on Google Scholar.

Also me and some of my colleagus have landed reasonable jobs with roughly 0 citations (excluding self).

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source | link

I think at least part of the answer lies in different cultures across fields. I did my PhD in computer science/artificial intelligence. There a huge focus is on conference papers which tend to be smaller contributions. Often incremental progress on a single project is reported in multiple conference papers and it was expected that a paper corresponds to several months worth of work. Frequently you would publish in a conference and then have an extended version appear in a journal. All in all, 5 first-author papers upon PhD was not exceptional. Also we had a lot of within-group collaboration so I got to e.g. run a few statistical routines on someone else's data and become a coauthor. I ended my PhD with 23 publications, 8 of which were first-author - this was above average in my group, but not exceptional.

Now I do bioinformatics and collaborate a lot with biologists. Their papers are usually longer and for any result you need a lot of actual manual work in the lab. In turn, the papers represent years worth of work. Many people - even brilliant ones - end their PhD with 1-3 first-author publications. I've heard in some areas, publications are even harder to come by. In other words, the number of publications is not a very good proxy for brilliance, especially when you are ignoring quality and comparing across fields.

As for the 100+ citations - my best bet (since you mention bioinformatics) is that this is because the students co-authored some software/tool/protocol that ended up being useful => cited. (tool papers tend to be the most cited ones). This is obviously a success, but once again does not necessarily imply that failing to produce useful tools is a sign of non-brilliance.

Example: DeSeq2 software for comparing gene expression across samples has > 10 000 citations on Google scholar while the first detection of gravitational waves has just above 6 000 citations on Google Scholar.

Also me and some of my colleagus have landed reasonable jobs with roughly 0 citations (excluding self).