A guide to posts related to methodological questions in the study of innovation.
This post provides a quick overview of claim articles in New Things Under the Sun related to methodological questions in the study of innovation.
Do Academic Citations Measure the Impact of New Ideas?
Measuring Knowledge Spillovers: The Trouble With Patent Citations
Citation counts are often used to measure the impact of scientific knowledge, but critics argue they may not accurately reflect the influence of scientific ideas.
A recent survey found that highly cited references are more likely to reflect significant influence on scientists' own work than less cited references
Alternative methods, such as natural language processing, have been explored to measure the influence of scientific papers and are also correlated with citations
Highly cited papers are more likely to be cited outside of academia.
Positive peer review reports are also predictive of more citations
The correlation between citation counts and other measures of impact is positive but not strong; you need a lot of data.
It is tempting to treat the citations patents make to each other as indicators of knowledge flows, but this is potentially misleading. Patent citations may not reflect genuine knowledge flows for several reasons:
Many citations are not added by the inventor, or are added after the invention is completed, as part of the patent application process
Some important citations may be purposefully omitted to try and game the patent examination process
Some irrelevant citations may be purposefully added to try and game the patent examination process
There is some evidence the signal-to-noise ratio of patent citations has begun to deteriorate markedly
Nonetheless, there is signal with the noise, and used carefully citations can be informative