, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 705–707 | Cite as

Productivity does not equal usefulness

  • Lutz BornmannEmail author
  • Alexander Tekles


For a recent commentary in Nature, Ioannidis et al. (Nature 561(7722):167–169, 2018) searched the Scopus database and identified those “hyperprolific” authors who have published more than one paper every 5 days. The 265 authors who belong to this very productive class contribute disproportionately to the archive. We show the relationship between paper productivity (annual number of papers) and usefulness of research (annual number of papers which belong to the 1% most frequently cited in the corresponding subject categories and publication years) for 160,108 researchers. Based on our results, we suggest that the identification of “hyperprolific” authors should consider not only quantity, but also the usefulness of research activities (measured in terms of citations).


Hyperprolific authors Bibliometrics Publication output Citation impact 


  1. Ioannidis, J. P. A., Klavans, R., & Boyack, K. W. (2018). Thousands of scientists publish a paper every 5 days. Nature, 561(7722), 167–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Larivière, V., & Costas, R. (2016). How many is too many? On the relationship between research productivity and impact. PLoS ONE, 11(9), e0162709. Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division for Science and Innovation StudiesAdministrative Headquarters of the Max Planck SocietyMunichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of SociologyLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichGermany

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