Academics share one thing with the corporate world - most people want to climb the socio-economic ladder.

A post at an elite university like Oxford or Caltech is the crowning achievement of a career — but some believe it will also improve the quality of their work, by bringing them together with other top-flight researchers.

Plausible, but Albert-Laszlo Barabasi shows in a study published in Scientific Reports it isn't the case. He's not green with Ivy envy, he is from Harvard.

Barabasi examined the careers of physicists who began publishing between 1950 and 1980 and continued to do so for at least 20 years. They ranked the impact of the institutions these people attended by counting the number of citations each institution’s papers received within five years of publication.

By tracking the affiliations of individual physicists and counting their citations in a similar way, Barabasi was able to work out whether moving from a low- to a high-ranking university improved a physicist’s impact.

Writing in The Economist, Alex Berezow details the findings. Maybe the best institutions are hiring the famous names or the ones bringing in the most money. If you are neither of those, maybe it's because you are going to be doing all of the work for one of those first two.