The Smithsonian creates knowledge through high-impact research in its museums, National Zoo, research centers, and field stations. Thousands of scientists and scholars working across the Institution, and with colleagues around the world, address fundamental questions in the natural and physical sciences, history, art, and culture. Visit our research center page for more information.
A standard measure of research productivity is the total number of scholarly publications. The measure includes journal articles, books, book chapters, and other significant research publications authored by Smithsonian staff. Publications do not capture the full range of the Smithsonian’s scholarly output in history, art, and culture, where much of our scholarship is seen in exhibitions and exhibition catalogs rather than journals. Learn more about Smithsonian research here and search Smithsonian Profiles.
The Smithsonian’s ability to attract post-doctoral fellows, interns, and research associates desiring to work with Smithsonian researchers is a measure of the stature of our research enterprise. These individuals augment Smithsonian scientific and scholarly output. Visit the Office of Fellowships & Internships to learn more.
Every year, Smithsonian scholars apply or compete for additional support beyond federal appropriations from foundations, governmental agencies, private corporations, and individual donors. The number of research proposals submitted and dollar amount of research grant and contract awards are measures of research productivity and quality.
The Nobel Prize is among the most prestigious awards in the world. The National Academy of Sciences’ Henry Draper Medal is awarded every four years and honors a recent, original investigation in astronomical physics. Invited membership in national academies and societies such as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science is also considered one of the highest distinctions that a scientist or scholar can receive. (Note: an individual may belong to more than one academy or society.)
* Smithsonian radio astronomer and physicist Robert W. Wilson is a 1978 Nobel laureate in physics.
** Smithsonian astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman is the 2021 recipient of the Henry Draper Medal in recognition of his groundbreaking work on black holes.
Smithsonian Organization and Audience Research/OCIO