To quote the summary:
According to a new study by Harvard's George Borjas and Notre Dame's Kirk Doran of recipients of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics, winning big actually kills productivity.
Mathematicians who win it publish far less in the years afterwards than similarly brilliant "contenders"—highly cited mathematicians who won other prestigious awards before the age of 40 (the cutoff for the Fields), but not the prize itself. The prize is awarded every four years to two, three, or four mathematicians. It goes to show that major awards and recognition can have unintended consequences
I have not yet read the paper. But my first thought would be that a lot would depend on how you define contenders. I also imagine that the criterion of interest is research achievement, and that number of papers is an imperfect index of this.
- Does winning the Fields medal actually decrease the research productivity of winners below what it would have been had they not won the medal?
- How strong is the evidence presented by Borjas and Doran (2012)? What, if any, limitations does the study have?
- Borjas, G. J., & Doran, K. B. (2012). The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians*. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(3), 1143-1203. PDF