nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2007‒07‒27
four papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Is Peer Review in Decline? By Glenn Ellison
  2. Verification of Citations: Fawlty Towers of Knowledge? By Wright, Malcolm; Armstrong, J. Scott
  3. Heterogeneity of Patenting Activity and Its Implications for Scientific Research By Czarnitzki, Dirk; Glänzel, Wolfgang; Hussinger, Katrin
  4. Changes in Math Prerequisites and Student Performance in Business Statistics: Do Math Prerequisites Really Matter? By Jeffrey J. Green; Courtenay C. Stone; Abera Zegeye; Thomas A. Charles

  1. By: Glenn Ellison
    Abstract: Over the past decade there has been a decline in the fraction of papers in top economics journals written by economists from the highest-ranked economics departments. This paper documents this fact and uses additional data on publications and citations to assess various potential explanations. Several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the Internet improves the ability of high-profile authors to disseminate their research without going through the traditional peer-review process.
    JEL: A14 I23 O30
    Date: 2007–07
  2. By: Wright, Malcolm; Armstrong, J. Scott
    Abstract: The prevalence of faulty citations impedes the growth of scientific knowledge. Faulty citations include omissions of relevant papers, incorrect references, and quotation errors that misreport findings. We discuss key studies in these areas. We then examine citations to Estimating nonresponse bias in mail surveys, one of the most frequently cited papers from the Journal of Marketing Research, as an exploratory study to illustrate these issues. This paper is especially useful in testing for quotation errors because it provides specific operational recommendations on adjusting for nonresponse bias; therefore, it allows us to determine whether the citing papers properly used the findings. By any number of measures, those doing survey research fail to cite this paper and, presumably, make inadequate adjustments for nonresponse bias. Furthermore, even when the paper was cited, 49 of the 50 studies that we examined reported its findings improperly. The inappropriate use of statistical-significance testing led researchers to conclude that nonresponse bias was not present in 76 percent of the studies in our sample. Only one of the studies in the sample made any adjustment for it. Judging from the original paper, we estimate that the study researchers should have predicted nonresponse bias and adjusted for 148 variables. In this case, the faulty citations seem to have arisen either because the authors did not read the original paper or because they did not fully understand its implications. To address the problem of omissions, we recommend that journals include a section on their websites to list all relevant papers that have been overlooked and show how the omitted paper relates to the published paper. In general, authors should routinely verify the accuracy of their sources by reading the cited papers. For substantive findings, they should attempt to contact the authors for confirmation or clarification of the results and methods. This would also provide them with the opportunity to enquire about other relevant references. Journal editors should require that authors sign statements that they have read the cited papers and, when appropriate, have attempted to verify the citations.
    Keywords: citation errors; evidence-based research; nonresponse bias; quotation errors; surveys.
    JEL: Y8 C81 B4
    Date: 2007–07
  3. By: Czarnitzki, Dirk; Glänzel, Wolfgang; Hussinger, Katrin
    Abstract: The increasing commercialization of university discoveries has initiated a controversy on the impacts for future scientific research. It has been argued that an increasing orientation towards commercialization may have a negative impact on more fundamental research efforts in science. Several scholars have therefore analyzed the relationship between publication and patenting activity of university researchers, and most articles report positive correlations. However, most studies do not account for heterogeneity of patenting activities ranging from university patents to corporate patents. While the former may have closer links to basic research, this is not what we expect from the latter. We argue that such efforts will indeed distract scientists from other activities, as collaborations with companies are usually assumed to have an applied character and do not necessarily coincide with basic research tasks. This paper investigates the incidence of patenting and publishing distinguishing between different types of patents for a large sample of professors active in Germany. Our results show that, while university patents as well as patents assigned to not-for-profit institutions complement publication quantity and quality, corporate patents yield negative effects.
    Keywords: Entrepreneurial universities, academic inventors, industry-science linkages, patents, technology transfer
    JEL: O31 O32 O34
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Jeffrey J. Green (Department of Economics, Ball State University); Courtenay C. Stone (Department of Economics, Ball State University); Abera Zegeye (Department of Economics, Ball State University); Thomas A. Charles (Department of Economics, Ball State University)
    Abstract: We use a binary probit model to assess the impact of several changes in math prerequisites on student performance in an undergraduate business statistics course. While the initial prerequisites did not necessarily provide students with the necessary math skills, our study, the first to examine the effect of math prerequisite changes, shows that these changes were deleterious to student performance. Our results helped convince the College of Business to change the math prerequisite again beginning with the 2008/2009 academic year. Thus, this study is also the first to actually help strengthen math prerequisites and improve student performance in business statistics.
    Keywords: binary probit; business statistics; math prerequisites; student performance.
    Date: 2007–07

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