The scientific ecosystem relies on citation-based metrics that provide only imperfect, inconsistent and easily manipulated measures of research quality. Here we describe DELPHI (Dynamic Early-warning by Learning to Predict High Impact), a framework that provides an early-warning signal for 'impactful' research by autonomously learning high-dimensional relationships among features calculated across time from the scientific literature. We prototype this framework and deduce its performance and scaling properties on time-structured publication graphs from 1980 to 2019 drawn from 42 biotechnology-related journals, including over 7.8 million individual nodes, 201 million relationships and 3.8 billion calculated metrics. We demonstrate the framework's performance by correctly identifying 19/20 seminal biotechnologies from 1980 to 2014 via a blinded retrospective study and provide 50 research papers from 2018 that DELPHI predicts will be in the top 5% of time-rescaled node centrality in the future. We propose DELPHI as a tool to aid in the construction of diversified, impact-optimized funding portfolios.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.