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The changing role of patents and publishing in basic and applied modes of organised research

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Organized research activity is often characterized as a tale of two cultures: the fundamental or basic science of academia as against the applied, problem-solving R&D of industry. Although the two cultures have certainly never been as isolated from each other as the label ‘pure science’ would suggest, they have traditionally demonstrated fundamental qualitative differences. An archetypical conception portrays academic and industrial modes of research as essentially different cultures: they differ in what they research, how they do so and why.The most pronounced difference however is associated with the question of motivation: it involves the way the two cultures treat their results. In this environment, the predominant rule has been that academic science treats its important results by publishing, industrial R&D basically either through secrecy or (apparently increasingly) through patenting. In this, the logic of patenting (direct and indirect costs, patentability requirements, etc) and that of publishing (peer-reviews etc) have reinforced the cultural disposition. One symptomatic result of this state is that patents and bibliometrics have become attached as ‘indicators’ for the respective fields.However, the last 20-30 years have witnessed to a mounting tendency for the two roles to intermingle: patents are being sought and issued to academics while companies are publishing in journals. In addition, evidence in each has attested to greater collaborations between the two spheres. The traditional boundaries are thus being redrawn for these very much separate proxies associated with the two main directions organized research activities take. The purpose of this report is to explore the changing roles publication and patenting play for the way applied and basic research treat their results. It explores generally how the use of the bibliometric- and patent-based proxies or indicators is changing to describe the changing research environment and what difficulties these uses can involve. Before focusing first on bibliometrics and then on patenting, several relevant conceptual and practical aspects of the changing research environment will be discussed.

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Paper provided by The STEP Group, Studies in technology, innovation and economic policy in its series STEP Report series with number 199906.

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Handle: RePEc:stp:stepre:1999r06

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  1. Saviotti, Pier Paolo, 1998. "On the dynamics of appropriability, of tacit and of codified knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 843-856, April.
  2. Hicks, Diana M. & Isard, Phoebe A. & Martin, Ben R., 1996. "A morphology of Japanese and European corporate research networks," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 359-378, May.
  3. Mansfield, Edwin, 1991. "Academic research and industrial innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-12, February.
  4. Katz, J. Sylvan & Martin, Ben R., 1997. "What is research collaboration?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, March.
  5. Pavitt, Keith, 1991. "What makes basic research economically useful?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 109-119, April.
  6. Meyer-Krahmer, Frieder & Schmoch, Ulrich, 1998. "Science-based technologies: university-industry interactions in four fields," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 835-851, December.
  7. Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson & Adam Jaffe, 1997. "University Versus Corporate Patents: A Window On The Basicness Of Invention," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 19-50.
  8. Godin, Benoit, 1996. "Research and the practice of publication in industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 587-606, June.
  9. Etzkowitz, Henry, 1998. "The norms of entrepreneurial science: cognitive effects of the new university-industry linkages," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 823-833, December.
  10. Meyer, Martin, 2000. "Does science push technology? Patents citing scientific literature," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 409-434, March.
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