nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2023‒07‒31
two papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Axventure AB

  1. Has Academic Research Become More Politically Focused? An Investigation into the last 50 Years of Academic Publications By Krasner, Rachel; Butler, Jeff
  2. Choose Your Moments: Peer Review and Scientific Risk Taking By Richard T. Carson; Joshua S. Graff Zivin; Jeffrey G. Shrader

  1. By: Krasner, Rachel; Butler, Jeff
    Abstract: What this paper aims to do is take a step away from the internal workings of academia and look at the overall scope of how research interests have evolved in the half century. We are interested to see if there is evidence that academic publications have become more politicized in the last decade than in previous ones. Please note the use of the word “politicized” which does not belong solely to any political party but to the open-ended arena of politics. By examining a curated list of politically driven terms, we use publication records to see how these terms map onto a variety of fields over time. We hope to present our findings in a non-partisan, non-judgmental way, and the reader will ultimately determine the strengths and directionality of these findings.
    Date: 2023–06–19
  2. By: Richard T. Carson; Joshua S. Graff Zivin; Jeffrey G. Shrader
    Abstract: Science funding agencies such as the NIH, NSF, and their counterparts around the world are often criticized for being too conservative, funding incremental innovations over more radical but riskier projects. One explanation for their conservatism is the way the agencies use peer review of scientific proposals. Peer review is the cornerstone of research allocation decisions, but agencies typically base decisions on a simple average of peer review scores. More novel ideas are less likely to gain consistently high ratings across evaluators and are less likely to be funded. Using a discrete choice experiment conducted with a large sample of active biomedical researchers, we find that—in contrast to funding agencies—scientists systematically prefer to fund projects with more reviewer dissensus. Rather than purely focusing on the first moment of the distribution of reviewer scores, they also value the second moment. Further, scientists with the greatest domain expertise on a proposal are more enthusiastic about dissensus, and while appetite for dissensus shrinks as budgets become tighter, it does not disappear completely. Applying our estimates to prior studies mimicking NIH’s review process shows that incorporating expert scientists’ preferences for dissensus would change marginal funding decisions for ten percent of projects worth billions of dollars per year.
    JEL: H40 O3 O38
    Date: 2023–06

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