Relationships Between Sponsorship and Impacts: Does It Matter Who Funds Research?

Monday, 17 February 2014
Water Tower (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Philip Shapira , University of Manchester, Manchester , United Kingdom
Research sponsors, research institutions, policy makers, and other stakeholders in many countries increasingly seek methods to assess and justify the impacts of R&D expenditures. In general, the extant literature indicates that there are relationships between research funding and research outputs, although there is ongoing debate about the nature and direction of effects. Only recently has it been possible to undertake large-scale global analyses of acknowledgements to sponsors and funders in scientific research papers. Using novel data mining methods, we examine acknowledgements to research sponsors in nanotechnology journal papers. Numerous sponsors, including in the United States, have increased funding for scientific research in nanotechnology, and the output of nanotechnology papers has surged in recent years. We investigate funding acknowledgements reported in a data set of 91,000 nanotechnology papers published worldwide since mid-2008. Some of these papers acknowledge multiple funding sources, including funding from more than one country reflecting combinations of national and international co-authorships. Using a two-stage regression model, we examine effects of funding status, the number and diversity of funding sources, international co-funding, funding from leading countries, and other variables on research impacts in terms of journal placement and citations. We discuss the utility and limitations of these impact measures. We find that publications supported by certain sponsors and funding arrangements exhibit higher journal ranking and citation impacts. Not all papers acknowledge research funding, but those acknowledging sponsors and grants are more likely to get published in highly ranked journals and to receive citations. Research supported by multiple sponsors and countries garners greater impact up to a point, with US and European sponsorship more likely to be associated with higher impact. The paper considers the implications for research sponsorship and management, research impact measurement, the internationalization of science, and strategies for leveraging scientific resources and collaborations.