Some people used to be prolific when they were working on their PhDs, but years after graduation, they hardly published a single paper. Why?

Also, some faculty members published great papers while working on their PhDs that received dozens of citations, but few years later and after they started leading their own research, most of their published work barely got any citation. How come?


1 Answer 1


I'm sure there are more reasons, but here are two positive reasons.

Some people get a job that stresses teaching more than research and so they put their focus there. It can be a rewarding life, actually. Lots of teaching and a bit of research. Maybe less stress. Of course this is an unlikely scenario at an R1 university.

Some people, after gaining tenure and leading a fairly large group of graduate students in a lab or research group, are willing to let the students gain the glory and don't add themselves as co-author, even though it might be appropriate. This isn't a good path before tenure, but can be afterwards. So they are doing research but, by feeding ideas to them, the students gain the credit for it.

  • Yet others have benefited from good mentoring as grad students, but can't seem to hit their stride once they're faculty. Aug 23, 2019 at 4:07
  • Yet others get married and have children, some with special needs, and do not have the time to do more than the minimum their school requires. Aug 23, 2019 at 4:07
  • Yet others struggle with mental health issues, or loved ones with mental health issues. Aug 23, 2019 at 4:07
  • There are so many reasons why people are or choose to be not among the most productive even though they may have been at an earlier stage in their lives. There's really no general reason -- people's lives move in so many different directions once they grow out of their 20s. Aug 23, 2019 at 4:09
  • 1
    @WolfgangBangerth, One reason is that too many people never develop, or give up, a circle of collaborators when they finish their degree. Such a circle is one of the most valuable things you can take away from grad school. If you don't have one, then work to build it.
    – Buffy
    Aug 25, 2019 at 13:21

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