Science of Science

Misha Teplitskiy, Eamon Duede, Michael Menietti, and Karim R. Lakhani. 5/2022. “How status of research papers affects the way they are read and cited”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Although citations are widely used to measure the influence of scientific works, research shows that many citations serve rhetorical functions and reflect little-to-no influence on the citing authors. If highly cited papers disproportionately attract rhetorical citations then their citation counts may reflect rhetorical usefulness more than influence. Alternatively, researchers may perceive highly cited papers to be of higher quality and invest more effort into reading them, leading to disproportionately substantive citations. We test these arguments using data on 17,154 randomly sampled citations collected via surveys from 9,380 corresponding authors in 15 fields. We find that most citations (54%) had little-to-no influence on the citing authors. However, citations to the most highly cited papers were 2–3 times more likely to denote substantial influence. Experimental and correlational data show a key mechanism: displaying low citation counts lowers perceptions of a paper's quality, and papers with poor perceived quality are read more superficially. The results suggest that higher citation counts lead to more meaningful engagement from readers and, consequently, the most highly cited papers influence the research frontier much more than their raw citation counts imply.
Kyle R. Myers, Wei Yang Tham, Yian Yin, Nina Cohodes, Jerry G. Thursby, Marie C. Thursby, Peter E. Schiffer, Joseph T. Walsh, Karim R. Lakhani, and Dashun Wang. 6/8/2020. “Quantifying the Immediate Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Scientists.” SSRN. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the scientific enterprise, but we lack empirical evidence on the nature and magnitude of these disruptions. Here we report the results of a survey of approximately 4,500 Principal Investigators (PIs) at U.S.- and Europe-based research institutions. Distributed in mid-April 2020, the survey solicited information about how scientists' work changed from the onset of the pandemic, how their research output might be affected in the near future, and a wide range of individuals' characteristics. Scientists report a sharp decline in time spent on research on average, but there is substantial heterogeneity with a significant share reporting no change or even increases. Some of this heterogeneity is due to field-specific differences, with laboratory-based fields being the most negatively affected, and some is due to gender, with female scientists reporting larger declines. However, among the individuals' characteristics examined, the largest disruptions are connected to a usually unobserved dimension: childcare. Reporting a young dependent is associated with declines similar in magnitude to those reported by the laboratory-based fields and can account for a significant fraction of gender differences. Amidst scarce evidence about the role of parenting in scientists' work, these results highlight the fundamental and heterogeneous ways this pandemic is affecting the scientific workforce, and may have broad relevance for shaping responses to the pandemic's effect on science and beyond.
Jacqueline N. Lane, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaule, Eva C. Guinan, and Karim R. Lakhani. Forthcoming. “Engineering Serendipity: When Does Knowledge Sharing Lead to Knowledge Production?” Strategic Management Journal. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We investigate how knowledge similarity between two individuals is systematically related to the likelihood that a serendipitous encounter results in knowledge production. We conduct a field experiment at a medical research symposium, where we exogenously varied opportunities for face‐to‐face encounters among 15,817 scientist‐pairs. Our data include direct observations of interaction patterns collected using sociometric badges, and detailed, longitudinal data of the scientists' postsymposium publication records over 6 years. We find that interacting scientists acquire more knowledge and coauthor 1.2 more papers when they share some overlapping interests, but cite each other's work between three and seven times less when they are from the same field. Our findings reveal both collaborative and competitive effects of knowledge similarity on knowledge production outcomes.

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Misha Teplitskiy, Hardeep Ranu, Gary Gray, Michael Menietti, Eva Guinan, and Karim Lakhani. Working Paper. “Do Experts Listen to Other Experts? Field Experimental Evidence from Scientific Peer Review.” HBS Working Paper Series. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Organizations in science and elsewhere often rely on committees of experts to make important decisions, such as evaluating early-stage projects and ideas. However, very little is known about how experts influence each other’s opinions and how that influence affects final evaluations. Here, we use a field experiment in scientific peer review to examine experts’ susceptibility to the opinions of others. We recruited 277 faculty members at seven U.S. medical schools to evaluate 47 early stage research proposals in biomedicine. In our experiment, evaluators (1) completed independent reviews of research ideas, (2) received (artificial) scores attributed to anonymous “other reviewers” from the same or a different discipline, and (3) decided whether to update their initial scores. Evaluators did not meet in person and were not otherwise aware of each other. We find that, even in a completely anonymous setting and controlling for a range of career factors, women updated their scores 13% more often than men, while very highly cited “superstar” reviewers updated 24% less often than others. Women in male-dominated subfields were particularly likely to update, updating 8% more for every 10% decrease in subfield representation. Very low scores were particularly “sticky” and seldom updated upward, suggesting a possible source of conservatism in evaluation. These systematic differences in how world-class experts respond to external opinions can lead to substantial gender and status disparities in whose opinion ultimately matters in collective expert judgment.
Karim R. Lakhani. 2008. InnoCentive.com (A). Harvard Business School Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

InnoCentive.com, a firm connecting R&D labs of large organizations to diverse external solvers through innovation contests, has to decide if it will enable collaboration in its community. Case covers the basics of a distributed innovation system works and the advantages of having external R&D. Links how concepts of open source are applied to a non-software setting. Describes the rationale for participation by solvers in innovation contests and the benefits that accrue to firms. Raises the issue if a community can be shifted to collaboration when competition was the basis of prior interaction.

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