Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ties in Science

First to market.

First to the finish line.

First to know.

First to file.

First to climb Mount Everest.

First country to land someone on the moon.

Human achievement is defined by one group out-competing another.  When the release of multiple research papers is coordinated, it may look like a tie but in reality one of two things has happened: Journal editors synchronized the release of papers to create a bigger impact, or two research groups shared enough information to synchronize their submissions.

If it's driven by editors, one of the groups is still first to submit.  In comparison, if it's driven by the groups, they've acted as one larger collective that's first to publish over all their competitors.

A long time ago, Andrew Carnegie quipped that "The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell". 

There are no ties.