Azoulay and his collaborators tracked changes in the citation rates of papers before and after one or more of their authors were named HHMI investigators. They found that citations jumped for some of the papers just after their authors joined the HHMI fold.
“You couldn’t tell them [the pairs of papers] apart in terms of citation trajectories, up until the time of the prize,” Azoulay said.
But the effect was more pronounced in some instances. The citation bump was nearly twice as great for papers published in lower-profile journals, and younger researcher/authors, with less robust reputations prior to their HHMI appointments were more likely to experience the benefits of the award. “The effect was much more pronounced when there was more reason to be uncertain about the quality of the science or the scientist before the prize,” Azoulay added.