The paper on "Quantifying patterns of research-interest evolution" by Tao Jia, Dashun Wang, and Boleslaw K. Szymanski was published in Nature Human Behavior 1(4):0078, 2017

The authors perform a large-scale analysis of publication records, and show that changes in research interests follow a reproducible pattern characterized by an exponential distribution. They identify three fundamental features responsible for the observed exponential distribution, which arise from a subtle interplay between exploitation and exploration in research-interest evolution. They also develop a random-walk-based model that accurately reproduces the empirical observations.