Empirical evidence is given on how membership in a consolidated, well-established research team provides researchers with some competitive advantage as compared to their colleagues in non-consolidated teams. Data were obtained from a survey of researchers ascribed to the 'Biology and Biomedicine' area of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, as well as from their curricula vitae. One quarter of the scientists work as members of teams in the process of consolidation. Our findings illustrate the importance, for the development and consolidation of research teams, of the availability of a minimum number of researchers with a permanent position and of a minimum number of support staff and non-staff personnel (mainly post-doctoral fellows). Consolidation of research teams has a clear influence on the more academic-oriented quantitative indicators of the scientific activity of individuals. Researchers belonging to consolidated teams perform quantitatively better than their colleagues in terms of the number of articles published in journals covered in the Journal Citation Reports, but not in terms of the impact of these publications. Consolidation favours publication, but not patenting, and it also has a positive effect on the academic prestige of scientists and on their capacity to train new researchers. It does not significantly foster participation in funded R&D projects, nor does it influence the establishment of international collaborations. Impact is influenced to a remarkable degree by seniority and professional background, and is significantly greater for young scientists who have spent time abroad at prestigious research laboratories.
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