What do top academics do that sets them apart from the rest? A recent paper sheds some light. Hidden in that is some interesting analysis on Ireland in comparative perspective.
Defining the top publishers as those that are in the upper decile of national output, the survey also looks at national differences. It is adjusted for time differences between when classes are in session and out of session. Because, despite what is thought, universities are not just secondary schools for those that can legally drink, but also have postgraduate, administrative and research roles to fulfill.
First, what do they do? The data are based on set of surveys, and are selfreported with audit checks on a random basis. The details are in the paper. It was conducted on 11,000 academics across all disciplines. 45% of the total research productivity comes from the top 10%. In Ireland it is 47%
Ireland comes out ok in terms of raw productivity. We are neither the best nor the worst.
Its when you get down to what makes top researchers so productive that things get interesting. Top researchers simply work more than the rest. They do more administration, put in much more time into research, do more other (fundraising, outreach). Internationally , they also do more teaching. This is not the case in Ireland, reflecting the very different IoT v University teaching contractual requirements.
So what, across the board, makes an individual a top researcher? Statistical analyses surfaced a number of determinants , alto I suspect there are some concerns about endogeneity not fully addressed, but the ones that really stood out were ; academic rank , the amount of hours spent per week at research, being on national or international boards or committees, being a regular peer reviewer and being on an editorial board . Perhaps what is more of interest is that availability of research funds, the attitude of the higher education institution, nor the age of the researcher really mattered. Full details are in the paper and the supplementary data.
So, TL:DR – put in the hours. Actually, just one extra per day. Thats it.