Fast Company

The Brand Called PhD

In the June issue of Fast Company, Tom Peters returns to the idea of the Brand Called You, updating it for the now with eight tips and tactics.

Meanwhile, according to PhysicsWeb, physicists at Clarkson University have determined that fame in science is different than fame in other practices and trades.

The fame of a scientist - as measured by the number of hits on Google - is directly proportional to their merit as measured by the number of research papers they have published. This is completely different to what is found for people who enjoy what the Clarkson physicists describe as "true fame", such as sports stars and actors. Fame for these people increases exponentially with merit. Moreover, fame for the truly famous follows a power-law distribution, whereas it falls off more rapidly for scientists.

In the end, the linear vs. exponential relationship comes down to the citation model, the researchers say. The more work you produce in terms of published papers, the more people will refer to your work. But is this truly the case? Perhaps in small, relatively insular work communities such as academia and scientific research, but as the celebrity model shows, there are better ways to build a professional brand beyond citations.

Where do you and your business fall?

Update: William Arruda also recently considered the role Google can play in establishing credentials and stature. As Seth Godin says: You are your references.

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2 Comments

  • Jack Vinson

    The more interesting study would be to do a historical analysis of the "fame level" of now-famous physicists. Did it grow linearly or exponentially?

  • Chris

    Seems like a weak thesis. The "truly" famous, even in the science community, break free from the limitations of being known exclusively for journal citations.

    Consider Carl Sagan or Richard Feynman. Those guys went way beyond their publications.

    Try a search on Stephen Hawking. See if it follows their model.

    The rude answer is that the names they entered aren't famous. Thus, like the rest of us, they are at the low end of the exponential curve.