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The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists' Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns

  • Waverly W. Ding
  • Sharon G. Levin
  • Paula E. Stephan
  • Anne E. Winkler

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15285.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15285.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as Ding, Waverly W., Sharon G. Levin, Paula E. Stepha n, and Anne E. Winkler. 2010. “ The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists’ Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns . ” Management Science 56(9): 1439 -­‐ 1461 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15285
Note: LS PR
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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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, vol. 34(3), pages 259-285, April.
  2. Han Kim, E & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "Are Elite Universities Losing their Competitive Edge?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart," Scholarly Articles 3043419, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  5. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Sharon M. Oster, 1998. "Tools or Toys? The Impact of High Technology on Scholarly Productivity," NBER Working Papers 6761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Adair Morse, 2006. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  8. Gourieroux Christian & Monfort Alain & Trognon A, 1982. "Pseudo maximum lilelihood methods : applications to poisson models," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8203, CEPREMAP.
  9. 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, vol. 4(2), pages 131-134, July.
  10. Ajay K. Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2006. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," NBER Working Papers 12812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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