So you want to be a PI?!

By Siouxsie Wiles 05/06/2014

David van Dijk, Ohad Manor and Lucas Carey have just published a paper in Current Biology (sadly it’s behind a paywall) in which they used papers listed in PubMed by over 25,000 scientists to determine whether becoming a principal investigator (PI) is predictable. They have showed that it is (at least for the cohort who first published between 1996 and 2000). Would you be surprised to find out that success depends on the number of publications and the impact factor of the journals those papers are published in? It does. The researchers have created a website so that anyone can calculate their likelihood of becoming a PI.

Read the Nature editorial here. Science also made their own prediction tool which you can play around with here.

And in keeping with the ‘science is sexist‘ theme, the researchers found that being male is also a positive predictor for becoming a PI. Their results suggest that, on average, having an identical publication record but being a woman lowers the chance of success by 7%.


Van Dijk, D., Manor, O. & Carey, L. B (2014). Publication metrics and success on the academic job market. Curr. Biol.