Scientific impact: Blessing or curse? Researchers’ happiness and work-life balance

Joaquín María Azagra Caro
Thursday, 1 February 2024 - 12:00

This paper contributes to the literature on the consequences of scientific impact in science. Scientific impact is key to progress and rewarding for researchers. However, the culture of scientific impact puts researchers under competitive pressure, especially when career advances are based on quantitative indicators of scientific impact. The objective of this study is to analyse the effect of scientific impact on the happiness of researchers, a phenomenon underexplored in the literature. Our findings, based on one of the largest two-wave surveys of researchers so far (over 2,200 Spanish researchers), reveal a negative effect of scientific impact on researchers’ happiness. This effect is mitigated by the enhancement of work/personal life, indicating the role of achieving a harmonious balance between professional success and personal well-being. Our study uncovers the positive moderating influences of prosocial motivation and creativity on the relationship between scientific impact and work/personal life enhancement. Researchers driven by a sense of social contribution and those who exhibit higher levels of creativity experience enhanced happiness despite the potentially detrimental effects of scientific impact. These findings underscore the importance of cultivating an environment that nurtures scientific impact based on the motivation to contribute to society and creative processes.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Resuelve. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n



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Short CV: 

Joaquín is tenured scientist at INGENIO (CSIC-UPV). He develops research in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. His main topics include university-industry interaction, university inventions, regional absorptive capacity and the local impact of university research. He publishes in journals such as The Journal of Technology Transfer, Research Evaluation, Research Policy or Scientometrics. With a strong background on quantitative techniques, Joaquín is progressively moving towards qualitative and mixed-method research. He has led several projects as principal investigator. He has worked at the EC Joint Research Centre, where he managed one European contract with an international research consortium. He has completed stays abroad in centres like BETA (Strasbourg), CWTS (Leiden) or GREThA (Bordeaux). He has organised international events like the 2018 Technology Transfer Society Conference.

Joaquín has collaborated regularly with firms, foundations and public administrations. He has led a contract for the European Commission (Identification of H2020 potential partners for two Portuguese regions in Manufacturing and Circular Economy) and contributed to numerous reports. He has written seven articles in magazines or blogs (e.g. Research Europe, University-Industry Innovation Magazine, Nada es gratis o El País), and has been interviewed and imparted seminars for non-academic audiences. One of Joaquín’s objectives today is to vindicate the importance of unconventional knowledge diffusion channels that link academia and society, such as art and fiction.