A two-fold evaluation in science: the case of Nobel Prize

Lingzhi Chen, Yutao Sun, Cong Cao

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


The Nobel Prize is a prestigious award for outstanding contributions in different fields of science. However, the issue of how Nobel laureates stand out from all nominees remains a “black box” to be explored. Using data on nominees and nominators for the prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine from 1901 to 1950, in this study, the influences of the academic impact of a nominee’s research, social identities of nominators, and the interaction between the two factors on the nominee’s chance of winning were explored. The main determinants for a nominee to receive a Nobel Prize include the academic impact as measured by using L-index and h-index, and nominators’ academic identity. However, significant disciplinary differences exist in terms of the influences of such factors. In physics, a nominee’s L-index showed a very significant and positive effect, and nominators’ administrative identity was helpful, and also their interactions. In chemistry, a nominee’s h-index, as well as a nominator’s administrative identity and academic identity, were all significant, and similar to physics, interactions between L-index and administrative identity could also increase a nominee’s probability of winning the prize. In physiology or medicine, nominee’s h-index and nominators’ academic identity were of great concern, and when a nominee with a high h-index was nominated by a nominator with a high academic identity, the nominee’s chance of being awarded was observed to be increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6267-6291
Number of pages25
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Academic identity
  • Administrative identity
  • h-index
  • L-index
  • Nobel Prize

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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