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‘Getting out of the closet’: scientific authorship of literary fiction and knowledge transfer


  • Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro

    (INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València)

  • Anabel Fernández-Mesa

    (University of Valencia)

  • Nicolás Robinson-García

    (INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València)


Some scientists write literary fiction books in their spare time. If these books contain scientific knowledge, literary fiction becomes a mechanism of knowledge transfer. In this case, we could conceptualize literary fiction as non-formal knowledge transfer. We model knowledge transfer via literary fiction as a function of the type of scientist (academic or non-academic) and his/her scientific field. Academic scientists are those employed in academia and public research organizations whereas non-academic scientists are those with a scientific background employed in other sectors. We also distinguish between direct knowledge transfer (the book includes the scientist’s research topics), indirect knowledge transfer (scientific authors talk about their research with cultural agents) and reverse knowledge transfer (cultural agents give scientists ideas for future research). Through mixed-methods research and a sample from Spain, we find that scientific authorship accounts for a considerable percentage of all literary fiction authorship. Academic scientists do not transfer knowledge directly so often as non-academic scientists, but the former engage into indirect and reverse transfer knowledge more often than the latter. Scientists from History stand out in direct knowledge transfer. We draw propositions about the role of the academic logic and scientific field on knowledge transfer via literary fiction. We advance some tentative conclusions regarding the consideration of scientific authorship of literary fiction as a valuable knowledge transfer mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro & Anabel Fernández-Mesa & Nicolás Robinson-García, 2020. "‘Getting out of the closet’: scientific authorship of literary fiction and knowledge transfer," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 56-85, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jtecht:v:45:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s10961-018-9672-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10961-018-9672-6

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    1. Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro & Carlos Benito-Amat & Ester Planells-Aleixandre, 2022. "Academic artists’ engagement and commercialisation," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 1273-1296, August.
    2. Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro & Laura González-Salmerón & Pedro Marques, 2021. "Fiction lagging behind or non-fiction defending the indefensible? University–industry (et al.) interaction in science fiction," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 46(6), pages 1889-1916, December.

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