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Bias against novelty in science: a cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators

Research which explores unchartered waters has a high potential for major impact but also carries a higher uncertainty of having impact. Such explorative research is often described as taking a novel approach. This study examines the complex relationship between pursuing a novel approach and impact.

By: , and Date: June 9, 2016 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Viewing scientific research as a combinatorial process, the authors measure novelty in science by examining whether a published paper makes first time ever combinations of referenced journals, taking into account the difficulty of making such combinations.

They apply this newly developed measure of novelty to all Web of Science research articles published in 2001 across all scientific disciplines. They find that highly novel papers, defined to be those that make more (distant) new combinations, deliver high gains to science: they are more likely to be a top 1% highly cited paper in the long run, to inspire follow on highly cited research, and to be cited in a broader set of disciplines.

At the same time, novel research is also more risky, reflected by a higher variance in its citation performance. In addition, the authors find that novel research is significantly more highly cited in “foreign” fields but not in its “home” field.

They also find strong evidence of delayed recognition of novel papers and that novel papers are less likely to be top cited when using a short time window. Finally, novel papers typically are published in journals with a lower than expected Impact Factor. These findings suggest that science policy, in particular funding decisions which rely on traditional bibliometric indicators based on short-term direct citation counts and Journal Impact Factors, may be biased against “high risk/high gain” novel research. The findings also caution against a mono-disciplinary approach in peer review to assess the true value of novel research.


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Upcoming Event

Nov
29
11:00

Mergers and innovation

At this event, we will hold a discussion on the impact that mergers have on innovation.

Speakers: Justus Haucap, Carles Esteva Mosso, Jorge Padilla and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Upcoming Event

Nov
29
12:30

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Speakers: Svend Albaek, Cristina Caffarra, Justus Haucap, Jorge Padilla and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Past Event

Past Event

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Speakers: Cristiano Codagnone, Valerio Michele De Stefano, Irene Mandl, Georgios Petropoulos and Amit Singh Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 5, 2017
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External Publication

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Reinhilde Veugelers' chapter in "Investment and Growth in Advanced Economies", conference volume of the European Central Bank’s Forum on central banking in Sintra.

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By: J. Scott Marcus and Robert G. Clarke Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: September 21, 2017
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Policy Contribution

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Fintech has the potential to change financial intermediation structures substantially. It could disrupt existing financial intermediation with new business models empowered by intelligent algorithms, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Policymakers need to consider four questions urgently: Develop a European or national fintech market? What regulatory framework to pursue? Should supervision of fintech be exercised at the European level? What is the overall vision for the EU’s financial system?

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Blueprint

Remaking Europe: the new manufacturing as an engine for growth

Europe needs to know how it can realise the potential for industrial rejuvenation. How well are European firms responding to the new opportunities for growth, and in which global value chains are they developing these new activities? The policy discussion on the future of manufacturing requires an understanding of the changing role of manufacturing in Europe’s growth agenda.

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China is the world's new science and technology powerhouse

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By: Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: August 30, 2017
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Blog Post

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By: Silvia Merler Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: August 24, 2017
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External Publication

Economic Implications of Further Harmonisation of Electronic Communications Regulation in the EU

One of the ways in which the European Commission has sought over the years to strengthen the European single market is by means of increased harmonisation of the regulation of electronic communications. To the extent that the European Union functions as a confederation of somewhat autonomous member states, however, there are both practical and political limits to the degree of harmonisation that is realistically desirable or achievable.

By: J. Scott Marcus and Christian Wernick Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: August 11, 2017
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