People who hit early career setbacks may be MORE successful in later life

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People who suffer a setback early in their career go on, on average, to be more successful later in their profession, a study suggests.

Experts examined the publication and funding history of scientists who had either just succeeded — or just failed — to land a particular grant early in their careers.

They found that the researchers who failed to land the grant went on to publish just as many academic papers later in life, even though they received less funding.

Those setback early on were also around 6 per cent more likely to publish a hit paper — based on the number of citations — than their initially successful colleagues.

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People who suffer a setback early in their career go on, on average, to be more successful later in their profession, a study suggests

People who suffer a setback early in their career go on, on average, to be more successful later in their profession, a study suggests

WHAT IS THE MATTHEW PRINCIPLE?

The Matthew Principle suggests that success begets more success while failure leads to more failure. 

It can be applied to various areas of life, from fame and status to the accumulation of wealth.

The term was coined by the American sociologist Robert K. Merton, who used it to describe how eminent scientists received more credit for work than unknown researchers.

It takes its name from the Biblical parables of the talents told in the gospel of Matthew.

However, a new study from Northwestern University in Illinois suggests that people who suffer early career setbacks can ultimately go on to be more successful in the long run. 

Network expert Yang Wang and colleagues at Illinois' Northwestern University studied the academic output of scientists who, early in their careers, applied for so-called R01 grants from the US National Institutes of Health between 1990 and 2005.

R01 grants are the institutes' oldest program to fund research project to seek knowledge about living systems and applying such to improve health and longevity.

Each participant is given a standardised evaluation score as part of the funding application process.

The team split the applicants into two groups — the 'near-misses' who had only just missed out on funding, and the

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