Recently on Facebook I came across a note by Chris Erdmann that some handy folks at Harvard put together statistics on (nearly) every astronomy paper from 1995 to present that was funded through an NSF AST grant. This seemed like a really interesting dataset, especially for a young (read: financially uncertain) research such as myself.
So parsing through all 29,042 papers listed, here are two interesting things I've learned...
1. A typical AST grant produces < 10 papers
This is a simple histogram of the number of papers each unique Grant Number produced. Many people have only produced 1 paper with a grant, but the average is about 8.75 (and the median is 3).
|Distribution of number of papers per grant, with a|
mean of 8.75 papers per grant (blue dashed line)
2. A grant has its peak output of papers at 3.1 years
This is a more intriguing figure to me. I've plotted (Year Published - Year Grant Awarded) as a function of Year Grant Awarded for all 29K papers, and then binned it up with pixels. You can clearly see the peak productivity between 2-4 years. I've marked the mean (solid orange) and stdddev (dashed orange) lines for each year.
|"nsfastgrantbib" data from the Astronomy Dataverse|
ConclusionFollowing this second figure, we expect that the grants from 2009 onward have only produced maybe half of their useful (publishable) results, despite many with dwindling funding.
Likewise, it's very encouraging that the grants awarded today will still be producing usable science well into the next decade!
Finally, we are reassured that Astronomy is an exciting and fast-paced field, and that continued strong funding is required to preserve this fact.
Christopher Erdmann; Louise Rubin, "Compiled List of NSF Grants to ADS Records from 1995 to August 2012", hdl:10904/10152 V2 [Version]