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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Waverly W. Ding & Sharon G. Levin & Paula E. Stephan & Anne E. Winkler, 2009. "The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists' Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns," NBER Working Papers 15285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15285 Note: LS PR
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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, pages 259-285.
    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.
    3. Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2008. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1578-1590, September.
    4. Tanya S. Rosenblat & Markus M. Mobius, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 971-1009.
    5. S. Redner, 1998. "How popular is your paper? An empirical study of the citation distribution," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 4(2), pages 131-134, July.
    6. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Sharon M. Oster, 2002. "Tools or Toys? The Impact of High Technology on Scholarly Productivity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 539-555, October.
    7. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
    8. 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.
    9. Gourieroux, Christian & Monfort, Alain & Trognon, Alain, 1984. "Pseudo Maximum Likelihood Methods: Applications to Poisson Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 701-720, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Malgorzata Wachowska, 2014. "Excessive Accumulation Of Knowledge As A Challenge To Science Policy," Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, Institute of Economic Research, pages 29-40.
    2. Fernanda L. L. de Leon & Ben McQuillin, 2014. "The role of conferences on the pathway to academic impact: Evidence from a natural experiment," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 14-08, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    3. Barham, Bradford L. & Foltz, Jeremy D. & Prager, Daniel L., 2014. "Making time for science," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 21-31.
    4. Pierre Azoulay & Jeffrey L. Furman & Joshua L. Krieger & Fiona E. Murray, 2012. "Retractions," NBER Working Papers 18499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jason Chan & Anindya Ghose & Robert Seamans, 2013. "The Internet and Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access," Working Papers 13-02, NET Institute.
    6. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 61-76.
    7. Venturini, Francesco, 2015. "The modern drivers of productivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 357-369.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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