Unfortunately, the paradigmatic studies often get mixed up with the prior ones leading to myth making and hero stories. That is, popularizers often praise paradigmatic studies at the expense of earlier ones that have priority for this or that idea and produce Whiggish stories and Great Man theories about lone geniuses. The paradigmatic studies therefore often eclipse those of priority by osmosis (Merton's Matthew effect) or amnesia (Stigler's law). The prior studies that failed to become paradigmatic simply get forgotten in many potted histories and abridged statements.
A clear distinction between being prior (the first to publish something) and being paradigmatic (the example to be imitated in a certain research programme) can help to clear up messy issues about crediting priority and crediting impact.
Example 1: Mendelism
With the distinction between being first (prior) and being prototype (paradigm example), it is quite easy to understand why Gregor Mendel did not only get credited for his priority in coining some genetic concepts, like recessiveness and dominance, but also got credit for producing paradigmatic studies for how to do genetics research. We can also understand, why he and not Correns, De Vries or Tschermark became eponymous for that kind of research. The latter did not re-discover studies by Mendel that were no use except for their proposing the concepts of recessiveness and dominance, they re-discovered studies that became paradigm examples for how to do genetics. (No Matthew effect or Stigler's law in action here.)
Example 2: Darwinism
The distinction between being first and being example to be imitated can also help understand the case of Darwinism, because priority and paradigm do not fall together. For example, Patrick Matthew (1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture) has priority for formulating the law of (macro-)evolution through natural selection. But it was Darwin who got imitated by evolutionary biologists, and for good reasons. Matthew's book is simply not a paradigm example for how to do evolutionary biology and it never will become one. It is a mixture of political agenda, lots of knowledge on the practical matters of tree growing, breeding, training etc. and some sharp insights about natural selection.
Darwin's On the Origin of Species, however, was a paradigm example for naturalists/biologists, even though he might not have priority for any one detail in it. What other naturalists tried to do after the Origin of Species was to imitate it and expand it. That is also why they called that what they were doing Darwinism and not Matthewism. Darwin became eponymous, because he was the role model to be imitated. Although he was discussing priority for the theory of natural selection, at face value, Alfred Wallace said as much in a letter to Darwin:
"As to the theory of "Natural Selection" itself, I shall always maintain it to be actually yours and yours only. You had worked it out in details I had never thought of, years before I had a ray of light on the subject, and my paper would never have convinced anybody or been noticed as more than an ingenious speculation, whereas your book has revolutionized the study of Natural History, and carried away captive the best men of the present age. All the merit I claim is the having been the means of inducing you to write and publish at once." Wallace to Darwin (29 May 1864)This makes no sense, if the "theory of "Natural Selection" itself" is being construed as a tiny detail within Darwin's book. That detail has been around in various publications for years and failed to revolutionize the study of Natural History. It was the whole Darwinian paradigm that revolutionized the study of Natural History.
Even Patrick Matthew himself admitted that his field of expertise was different from pure natural history in a letter to Darwin:
"My line lies more in the political & social, Your's in tracing out the admirably balanced scheme of Nature all linked together in dependant connection—the vital endowed with a variation-power in accommodation to material change." Matthew to Darwin (3 Dec 1862)Which was, IMHO, the reason why Matthew's book did not become a paradigm example for how to do evolutionary studies of natural history and why he did not become eponymous for such research.
I have always criticised the way in which some Darwinists tried to reduce Darwin's deed to the discovery* of natural selection. That is, some tried to reduce Darwin's deed to a case of priority for one tiny detail within his paradigm shifting study.
This pseudo-historic reductionism may now come back with a vengeance, because evidence on the history of the idea of natural selection shows that Darwin does not have priority for that idea. The only thing that protects certain writers on Darwinism from facing the embarrassment of having spread nonsense about Darwin's priority, here, lies in the fact that their opponents keep linking their claim for Matthew's priority with far-fetched claims about plagiarism on Darwin's and Wallace's part.
* I even find the term discovery of natural selection a misnomer, because it has not been discovered like America or a planet. It has been deduced or something.