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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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Podcast

Podcast

Are robots taking our jobs?

What will be the impact of automation on the economy? Bruegel's own Giuseppe Porcaro discusses with Aaron Benanav, Laura Nurski, and Alexis Moraitis.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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Blog Post

Will European Union recovery spending be enough to fill digital investment gaps?

The recovery facility will boost digital transformation, but questions remain whether it will be sufficient to achieve Europe’s digital ambitions.

By: Zsolt Darvas, J. Scott Marcus and Alkiviadis Tzaras Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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Policy Contribution

A new direction for the European Union’s half-hearted semiconductor strategy

The EU needs a more targeted strategy to increase its presence in this strategic and thriving sector, building on its existing strengths, while accommodating its relatively low domestic needs.

By: Niclas Poitiers and Pauline Weil Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 15, 2021
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Upcoming Event

Sep
2
14:30

Brave new digital industrial policy

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - In this session our speakers will dicuss innovation and digitalisation.

Speakers: Francesca Bria, Kerstin Jorna, Marietje Schaake and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Palais des Académies, Rue Ducale 1, Brussels
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Upcoming Event

Sep
3
11:45

Academic lecture: International technology competition

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 3 - On the final day of the Annual Meetings, our Director Guntram Wolf sits with Keyu Jin to discuss international competition policy.

Speakers: Keyu Jin, J. Scott Marcus and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Palais des Académies, Rue Ducale 1, Brussels
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Blog Post

Designing a hybrid work organisation

Post-pandemic hybrid work models should be carefully planned, taking into account individual and organisational needs.

By: Laura Nurski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 5, 2021
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Blog Post

Workers can unlock the artificial intelligence revolution

Employers and artificial intelligence developers should ensure new technologies work for workers by making them trustworthy, easy to use and valuable in day-to-day work.

By: Mia Hoffmann and Laura Nurski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 30, 2021
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Podcast

Podcast

The skills of the future

What challenges and opportunities does technology bring to the labour market?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 23, 2021
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Working Paper

Platform mergers and antitrust

This paper sets out a framework for addressing competition concerns arising from acquisitions in big platform ecosystems. This is a June 2021 update of the same paper published in January 2021.

By: Geoffrey Parker, Georgios Petropoulos and Marshall Van Alstyne Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 15, 2021
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Working Paper

Stability of collusion and quality differentiation: a Nash bargaining approach

How do incentives to collude depend on how asymmetric firms are? For low levels of differentiation, an increase in quality difference makes collusion less stable. The opposite holds for high levels of differentiation.

By: Thanos Athanasopoulos, Burak Dindaroglu and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 15, 2021
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Blog Post

The coming productivity boom

AI and other digital technologies have been surprisingly slow to improve economic growth. But that could be about to change.

By: Erik Brynjolfsson and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 10, 2021
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Policy Contribution

Blending the physical and virtual: a hybrid model for the future of work

The pandemic has shown that many workers can efficiently work remotely, with benefits for wellbeing and even productivity. The European Union should develop a framework to facilitate hybrid work.

By: Monika Grzegorczyk, Mario Mariniello, Laura Nurski and Tom Schraepen Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 9, 2021
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