I wondered about the number of papers published by mathematicians because I heard that they publish less than other academics or scientist. It would be nice if you could distinguish between the number of papers published by PhDs, Postdocs or Professors.

  • There is no general answer, but you can have a look at this answer of mine to a similar (closed) question. Note that the variablility apply also to subfields of mathematics. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 2 '19 at 16:41
  • @MassimoOrtolano Thank you. Have a nice year. – Danijar Dreger Jan 2 '19 at 16:45
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    This sounds like a research question and I doubt anyone has bothered to do the research. The distribution is likely very far from a normal distribution, but, like I said, research. Note that some of the best mathematicians may publish very little if they work on the very hardest problems. You don't contribute much if you publish a lot of dreck. Other mathematicians may let their students publish the best stuff, whether as co-authors or not. – Buffy Jan 2 '19 at 17:37
  • Both postdocs and professors are subsets of PhDs. – Azor Ahai -- he him Jan 2 '19 at 19:29
  • @AzorAhai When used to refer to people, "Ph.D." seems to be ambiguous. I'd ordinarily use it to mean a person who holds a Ph.D. degree, and in that sense your comment is almost correct. ("Almost" because a few people have become professors without a Ph.D.) But I've seen people (especially on this site) use it to mean a person enrolled in a Ph.D. program, and I conjecture that this is what's meant in the question. – Andreas Blass Jan 2 '19 at 23:03

This varies on a lot of things (e.g., by field and what kind of institution someone is at), however, there have been various studies. For instance Figure VII (p70) of this study (which seems a bit strange to me) graphs the annual number of papers per mathematician and their most recent data (2005-2008) appears to put the average just under 0.7 for "high-exposure mathematicians" and 0.2 for "low-exposure mathematicians."

That said, things vary a lot by area and what one considers as "research active." I would guess that it rather pure, theoretical areas (which I am most familiar with), among people I consider professors research active 1-2 papers/year is pretty typical. For postdocs I imagine the average is < 1/year (including those who are not "research successful") and for US PhD students < 0.2/year (most PhD students probably don't have anything published by the time they graduate, though they may have 1-2 preprints).

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  • 0.7? This is almost certainly obsolete and/or misinterpreted. – darij grinberg Jan 2 '19 at 20:51
  • @darijgrinberg Yes, of course things need to be interpreted appropriated. I didn't check their methors or what they mean by "high-exposure" but I do remember that the average number of total publications per author in something like a 20- or 30-year window using the MathematicalReviews database was around 1.75. I'm sure the numbers would be quite different if one restricted to facutly currently employed at R1 universities or the like. – Kimball Jan 2 '19 at 20:59

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