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Validation study: Patent citations as indicators of science and foreign dependence


  • Carpenter, Mark P.
  • Narin, Francis


The purpose of this study was to test whether the distribution of citations from issued U.S. patents could be used to measure the science dependence and the foreign dependence of patented technologies. The citations considered were front page references from U.S. patents citing to U.S. and foreign patents, to research papers and to other publications. Rankings based on the number of citations per patent to the scientific literature were compared to peer rankings of the science dependence of the technologies. Rankings based on the number of citations to foreign origin material, including foreign origin U.S. patents, foreign patents and foreign priority statements, were compared to peer rankings of the foreign dependence of the technological areas. For the analysis a total of 24 technologies were chosen. Twelve of these were judged in advance to be science dependent and twelve were judged in advance to be foreign dependent. A peer group of 19 high level R&D managers was asked to rank all 24 technologies in terms of both their science and their foreign dependence. The bibliometric rankings of the technologies, based on their citations, were then compared with the peer rankings of the technologies. Overall, a high degree of agreement was found between the experts' opinion as to the science and foreign dependence of the areas and the corresponding bibliometric rankings. For example, the eight technologies judged most science dependent by experts averaged 0.92 cites per patent to scientific journal papers, while the eight technologies judged least science dependent had only 0.05 references per patent to journal papers. Similarly, large and statistically significant differences were found in the number of cites to foreign origin material for the eight technologies judged most foreign dependent by the experts when compared with the eight technologies judged least foreign dependent by the experts. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that patent citation data can be used in technological indicators development, and in technological policy analysis. They imply that citation-based location and analysis of science and foreign dependent technologies is a valid research tool when applied to the U.S. patent system.

Suggested Citation

  • Carpenter, Mark P. & Narin, Francis, 1983. "Validation study: Patent citations as indicators of science and foreign dependence," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 180-185.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:5:y:1983:i:3:p:180-185

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