Ben Waber, president and chief executive officer of Sociometric Solutions, has written a great piece for Business Week. The article is titled, "The Myth of the Lone Genius." Waber examined the 1,000 most-cited articles from Nature from 2001 to 2010. Note that Nature is a very prestigious scientific journal. Check out the two charts he created.
|Source: Business Week|
Note, in particular, the right-hand tail on the top chart. The five ground-breaking, highest impact articles were all co-authored. Here's Waber's comment: "The five most-cited papers all have multiple authors. These are the papers that change science, that move entire fields—the ones we would expect “geniuses” to write. Except they’re all written by teams."
Overall, the second charts shows that multiple author papers account for many more citations than single author articles. We tend to make heroes of the long geniuses, but in today's world, collaboration is often the key to creative breakthroughs.