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  • 1 Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • | 2 Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
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It has long been known that scientific output proceeds on an exponential increase, or more properly, a logistic growth curve. The interplay between effort and discovery is clear, and the nature of the functional form has been thought to be due to many changes in the scientific process over time. Here I show a quantitative method for examining the ease of scientific progress, another necessary component in understanding scientific discovery. Using examples from three different scientific disciplines—mammalian species, chemical elements, and minor planets—I find the ease of discovery to conform to an exponential decay. In addition, I show how the pace of scientific discovery can be best understood as the outcome of both scientific output and ease of discovery. A quantitative study of the ease of scientific discovery in the aggregate, such as done here, has the potential to provide a great deal of insight into both the nature of future discoveries and the technical processes behind discoveries in science.

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  • Impact Factor (2019): 2.867
  • Scimago Journal Rank (2019): 1.210
  • SJR Hirsch-Index (2019): 106
  • SJR Quartile Score (2019): Q1 Computer Science Apllications
  • SJR Quartile Score (2019): Q1 Library and Information Sciences
  • SJR Quartile Score (2019): Q1 Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Impact Factor (2018): 2.770
  • Scimago Journal Rank (2018): 1.113
  • SJR Hirsch-Index (2018): 95
  • SJR Quartile Score (2018): Q1 Library and Information Sciences
  • SJR Quartile Score (2018): Q1 Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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ISSN 0138-9130 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2861 (Online)