Being highly productive in the Biomedical Sciences: A qualitative study of motivation and habits of high-throughput researchers

  • Joao Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci Duke University
  • Aline Chotte de Oliveira
  • Nelly Moraes Gil
  • Paulo Calvo
  • Ney Stival
  • Talitha Yen
  • Michael Haglund
  • Catherine Ann Staton


Background: Quantity, quality, and impact of scientific publications are used to assess national, institutional, and individual levels of research productivity. While the importance of quality research is stressed among the medical research community, minimal research has been conducted on analyzing which factors affect research productivity. Current literature assesses the quality of research institutions rather than that of individual researchers; there is also no research on the difference between high-impact researchers and other researchers. This study, conducted in 2015, sought to investigate the underlying reason for high-throughput authors' success by understanding their similar habits and motivations leading to high productivity.

Methods: The authors conducted a qualitative study via interviews of high-throughput researchers from around the world. Semi-structured interview scripts guided the interviews in accordance to the grounded theory method for qualitative studies. Broad themes from preliminary interviews were identified and explored in subsequent interviews.

Results: Qualitative analysis of participant interviews identified eight major themes: “Writing habits,” “Writing strategy,” “Previous training and writing experience,” “Major driver,” “Balancing volume and impact of publications,” “Ideal and non-ideal conditions,” “Timelines,” and “Role of networking on high-throughput productivity.” These themes are not exclusive nor required qualities of high-throughput researchers but highlight similarities and broadly unifying characteristics of these researchers.

Conclusion:This study identified the common qualities and attitudes of high-throughput researchers. We found common factors in most individuals that can be considered markers of high productivity.


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Nickenig Vissoci, J., Oliveira, A., Gil, N., Calvo, P., Stival, N., Yen, T., Haglund, M., & Staton, C. (2018). Being highly productive in the Biomedical Sciences: A qualitative study of motivation and habits of high-throughput researchers. Gestão E Sociedade, 13(34).