Mapping the global influence of published research on industry and innovation

Measuring citations to scholarly works in the global patent literature enables assessment of the influence of published research on invention, industry and enterprise, at the individual and institutional level.

Public research is critical to the economy and to society. However, tangible economic and social impact occurs only when research outputs are combined, used and reused with other elements and capabilities, to deliver a product, practice or service. Assessing the context and influence of scholarship during the dynamic process of innovation rather than measuring ex post impact, may improve performance. With this aim, we have integrated and interconnected scholarly citations with global patent literature and created new tools to link the scholarly literature with the patent literature. The resulting tools we present here enable diverse stakeholders to freely evaluate the influence published research has on the generation and potential use of inventions as reflected by the patent system. We outline an evolving toolkit, Lens Influence Mapping, that allows assessment of individual scholarly works and aggregated outputs of authors for influence on industry and enterprise, as measured by citations within patents. This performance measure, applied at many levels and normalized by either research disciplines or technology fields of use, may expose and highlight institutional strength and practices, and guide future partnerships.

Linking the scientific and patent literatures

Public investment in science and technology is increasingly expected to demonstrate social and economic benefits1,2,3,4. Much effort has been focused on developing metrics, databases and methodologies for identifying and quantifying impacts of past investments and actions3,4,5. Understanding the connections between desired outcomes and research conducted many years earlier will at best provide signposts for current public policy or to help evaluate past policy. But in rapidly evolving and complex innovative environments, this ex post assessment provides limited guidance as to how to improve performance. We need tools that provide guidance throughout the trajectory of innovation that can increase the likelihood of impact in the future.

The term ‘impact’ implies causation. Research findings can strongly influence or enable the development of a product or service with economic value, but a particular piece of scholarship rarely ’causes’ the delivery of such products or services. The concept of influence, rather than impact per se, reveals one-to-many relationships or many-to-many relationships, and surfaces opportunities to alter decisions and partnerships dynamically to enhance uptake of the scholarship.

Read The Full Article on Nature Biotechnology online