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Standing on Academic Shoulders: Measuring Scientific Influence in Universities

  • James ADAMS
  • J. Roger CLEMMONS
  • Paula E. STEPHAN

This article measures scientific influence using citations to academic papers. The data source is the Institute for Scientific Information; institutions include top U.S. research universities. The fields represented span science; and the time period is 1981-1999. The database includes 2.4 million papers and 18.8 million citations that account for much of the basic research conducted in the United States in the late 20th century. We use the citation probability, or actual citations divided by potential citations, to capture utilization of the literature by individual articles. Within fields the mean citation probability is roughly 10??. Cross-field probabilities are less than a one-tenth as large and are significant in less than a fourth of the possible cases. Field restricts citation, and this fact suggests limits on scientific influence. Cross-field probabilities are symmetric for mutually citing fields. However, ranked by quality of institution, citation probabilities are asymmetric within fields. Citation probabilities from lower to higher ranked institutions exceed the reverse citations, though the latter are significant. Higher ranked institutions are more often cited by peers than lower ranked institutions. This suggests that knowledge flows from peers increase with rank of institution. Overall the results suggest that spillovers in basic science are important but bounded, limiting the knowledge that spills over between one scientist and another.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20777570
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Article provided by ENSAE in its journal Annals of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): 79-80 ()
Pages: 61-90

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Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2005:i:79-80:p:03
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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 L. Darby & Lynne G. Zucker, 2010. "Grilichesian Breakthroughs: Inventions of Methods of Inventing and Firm Entry in Nanotechnology," NBER Chapters, in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 143-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. David Popp, 2002. "Induced Innovation and Energy Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 160-180, March.
  10. 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, vol. 48(1), pages 1-23, January.
  11. Adams, James D, 1990. "Fundamental Stocks of Knowledge and Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 673-702, August.
  12. 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.
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