Janosov, M., Battiston, F., & Sinatra, R. (2019). Success and luck in creative careers. Physics and Society. arXiv:1909.07956

Lu, D. (2019, September 26). Around half of your chances of career success comes down to sheer luck. New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2217628-around-half-of-your-chances-of-career-success-comes-down-to-sheer-luck/

How much of a person’s career success is the result of sheer luck? About half, depending on what field you’re in.

Roberta Sinatra at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and her colleagues set out to measure what role luck and individual ability play in the success of creative works, including films, songs, books and scientific research papers. They used this as a proxy for career success.

The researchers looked at works from more than 4 million people across the publishing, film and music industries, as well as 15 scientific fields.

They quantified impact based on the number of reviews that movies or books had accrued on IMBD or Goodreads respectively, and the number of times songs had been played on LastFM. The team also looked at 87.4 million research papers on the Web of Science database, measuring an article’s impact based on the number of times it was cited within a decade of being published.