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Standing on Academic Shoulders: Measuring Scientific Influence in Universities

In: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches

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  • James D. Adams
  • J. Roger Clemmons
  • Paula E. Stephan

Abstract

This article measures scientific influence by means of citations to academic papers. The data source is the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI); the scientific institutions included are the top 110 U.S. research universities; the 12 main fields that classify the data cover nearly all of science; and the time period is 1981-1999. Altogether the database includes 2.4 million papers and 18.8 million citations. Thus the evidence underlying our findings accounts for much of the basic research conducted in the United States during the last quarter of the 20th century. This research in turn contributes a significant part of knowledge production in the U.S. during the same period. The citation measure used is the citation probability, which equals actual citations divided by potential citations, and captures average utilization of cited literature by individual citing articles. The mean citation probability within fields is on the order of 10-5. Cross-field citation probabilities are one-tenth to one-hundredth as large, or 10-6 to 10-7. Citations between pairs of citing and cited fields are significant in less than one-fourth of the possible cases. It follows that citations are largely bounded by field, with corresponding implications for the limits of scientific influence. Cross-field citation probabilities appear to be symmetric for mutually citing fields. Scientific influence is asymmetric within fields, and occurs primarily from top institutions to those less highly ranked. Still, there is significant reverse influence on higher-ranked schools. We also find that top institutions are more often cited by peer institutions than lower-ranked institutions are cited by their peers. Overall the results suggest that knowledge spillovers in basic science research are important, but are circumscribed by field and by intrinsic relevance. Perhaps the most important implication of the results are the limits that they seem to impose on the returns to scale in the knowledge pro

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jacques Mairesse & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2010. "Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mair10-1, January.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12228.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12228

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    References

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    1. Zvi Griliches, 1979. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 92-116, Spring.
    2. Michael DARBY & Lynne G. ZUCKER, 2005. "Grilichesian Breakthroughs: Inventions of Methods of Inventing and Firm Entry in Nanotechnology," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 79-80, pages 143-164.
    3. David, Paul A, 1998. "Common Agency Contracting and the Emergence of "Open Science" Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 15-21, May.
    4. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
    5. Jaffe, Adam B, 1986. "Technological Opportunity and Spillovers of R&D: Evidence from Firms' Patents, Profits, and Market Value," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 984-1001, December.
    6. Adams, James D, 1990. "Fundamental Stocks of Knowledge and Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 673-702, August.
    7. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
    8. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2002. "Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R&D," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 1-23, January.
    9. Audretsch, David B & Stephan, Paula E, 1996. "Company-Scientist Locational Links: The Case of Biotechnology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 641-52, June.
    10. Marie Thursby & Richard Jensen, 2001. "Proofs and Prototypes for Sale: The Licensing of University Inventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 240-259, March.
    11. David Popp, 2002. "Induced Innovation and Energy Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 160-180, March.
    12. Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lööf, Hans & Broström, Anders, 2004. "Does Knowledge Diffusion between University and Industry Increase Innovativeness?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 21, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, revised 26 Jan 2006.
    2. James Adams & J. Roger Clemmons, 2008. "Science And Industry: Tracing The Flow Of Basic Research Through Manufacturing And Trade," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 473-495.

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