The paper develops an optimization model of the career of a scientist. Recognizing that research efforts and networking get more efficient if the scientist is more knowledgeable, history dependent solutions are developed. We give a theoretical underpinning of the four different research patterns detected in Way et al. (2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). If the scientist does not bother about his reputation at the end of his career, we show that a sufficient education level is needed for the scientist to develop a typical research pattern where productivity increases in the beginning of his career, while it declines towards retirement. If the education level is not sufficient, a fading research pattern will result where productivity declines over time. On the other hand, when the scientist appreciates to have a good reputation at the end of his career, sufficient education will result in increasing productivity over the career lifetime, preventing a midlife slump.
- optimal control
- research patterns
- age-dependent scientific production
- initial knowledge