Science of Science

Misha Teplitskiy, Eamon Duede, Michael Menietti, and Karim R. Lakhani. Working Paper. “Status drives how we cite: Evidence from thousands of authors”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Researchers cite works for a variety of reasons, including some having nothing to do with acknowledging influence. The distribution of different citation types in the literature, and which papers attract which types, is poorly understood. We investigate high-influence and low-influence citations and the mechanisms producing them using 17,154 ground-truth citation types provided via survey by 9,380 authors systematically sampled across academic fields. Overall, 54% of citations denote little-to-no influence and these citations are concentrated among low status (lightly cited) papers. In contrast, high-influence citations are concentrated among high status (highly cited) papers through a number of steps that resemble a pipeline. Authors discover highly cited papers earlier in their projects, more often through social contacts, and read them more closely. Papers' status, above and beyond any quality differences, directly helps determine their pipeline: experimentally revealing or hiding citation counts during the survey shows that low counts cause lowered perceptions of quality. Accounting for citation types thus reveals a "double status effect": in addition to affecting how often a work is cited, status affects how meaningfully it is cited. Consequently, highly cited papers are even more influential than their raw citation counts suggest.
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. Working Paper. “Quantifying the Immediate Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Scientists”. 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. (A). Harvard Business School Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract, 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.

Andrea Blasco, Olivia S. Jung, Karim R. Lakhani, and Michael Menietti. 2016. Motivating Effort in Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence. National Bureau of Economic Research. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

Karim R. Lakhani, Kevin J. Boudreau, Po-Ru Loh, Lars Backstrom, Carliss Y. Baldwin, Eric Lonstein, Mike Lydon, Alan MacCormack, Ramy A. Arnaout, and Eva C. Guinan. 2013. “Prize-based Contests Can Provide Solutions to Computational Biology Problems.” Nature Biotechnology, 31, 2, Pp. 108-111. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In summary, we show that a prize-based contest on a commercial platform can effectively recruit skilled individuals to apply their knowledge to a big-data biomedical problem. Deconstruction and transformation of problems for a heterogeneous solver community coupled with adequate data to produce and validate results can support solution diversity and minimize the risk of sub-optimal solutions that may arise from limited searches. In addition to the benefits of generating new knowledge, this strategy may be particularly useful in situations where the computational or algorithmic problem, or potentially any science problem, represents a barrier to rapid progress but where finding the solution is not itself the major thrust of the investigator’s scientific effort. The America Competes Act passed by the US Congress provides funding agencies with the authority to administer their own prize-based contests and paves the way for establishing how grant recipients might access commercial prize platforms to accelerate their own research.