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The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists' Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns

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  • Waverly W. Ding
  • Sharon G. Levin
  • Paula E. Stephan
  • Anne E. Winkler

Abstract

This study advances the prior literature concerning the impact of information technology on productivity in academe in two important ways. First, it utilizes a dataset that combines information on the diffusion of two noteworthy and early innovations in IT -- BITNET and the Domain Name System (DNS) -- with career history data on research-active life scientists. This research design allows for proper identification of the availability of access to IT as well as a means to directly identify causal effects. Second, the fine-grained nature of the data set allows for an investigation of three publishing outcomes: counts, quality, and co-authorship. Our analysis of a random sample of 3,771 research-active life scientists from 430 U.S. institutions over a 25-year period supports the hypothesis of a differential return to IT across subgroups of the scientific labor force. Women scientists, early-to-mid-career scientists, and those employed by mid-to-lower-tier institutions benefit from access to IT in terms of overall research output and an increase in the number of new co-authors they work with. Early-career scientists and those in top-tier institutions gain in terms of research quality when IT becomes available at their campuses.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15285.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as Ding, Waverly W., Sharon G. Levin, Paula E. Stepha n, and Anne E. Winkler. 2010. “ The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists’ Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns . ” Management Science 56(9): 1439 -­‐ 1461 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15285

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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Sharon M. Oster, 1998. "Tools or Toys? The Impact of High Technology on Scholarly Productivity," NBER Working Papers 6761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kim, E. Han & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 353-381, September.
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  5. Sharon G. Levin & Paula E. Stephan & Anne E. Winkler, 2012. "Innovation in academe: the diffusion of information technologies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(14), pages 1765-1782, May.
  6. Tanya S. Rosenblat & Markus M. Mobius, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 971-1009, August.
  7. Adams, James D. & Black, Grant C. & Clemmons, J. Roger & Stephan, Paula E., 2005. "Scientific teams and institutional collaborations: Evidence from U.S. universities, 1981-1999," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 259-285, April.
  8. Adair Morse, 2006. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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Cited by:
  1. Barham, Bradford L. & Foltz, Jeremy D. & Prager, Daniel L., 2014. "Making time for science," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 21-31.
  2. Jason Chan & Anindya Ghose & Robert Seamans, 2013. "The Internet and Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access," Working Papers 13-02, NET Institute.

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