New Things Under the Sun

Matt Clancy

Synthesizing academic research about innovation, science, and creativity. read less
ScienceScience

Episodes

Twitter and the Spread of Academic Knowledge
Jun 20 2024
Twitter and the Spread of Academic Knowledge
A classic topic in the study of innovation is the link between physical proximity and the exchange of ideas. But I’ve long been interested in a relatively new kind of serendipity engine, which isn’t constrained by physical proximity: Twitter. Lots of academics use twitter to talk about new discoveries and research. Today I want to look at whether twitter serves as a novel kind of knowledge diffusion platform.This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article Twitter and the Spread of Academic Knowledge, originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedde Winter, J.C.F. 2015. The relationship between tweets, citations, and article views for PLOS ONE articles. Scientometrics 102: 1773-1779. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-014-1445-xJeong, J.W., M.J. Kim, H.-K. Oh, S. Jeong, M.H. Kim, J.R. Cho, D.-W. Kim and S.-B Kang. 2019. The impact of social media on citation rates in coloproctology. Colorectal Disease (10):1175-1182. https://doi.org/10.1111/codi.14719Peoples, Brandon K., Stephen R. Midway, Dana Sackett, Abigail Lynch, and Patrick B. Cooney. 2016. Twitter predicts citation rates of ecological research. PLoS ONE 11(11): e0166570. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166570Lamb, Clayton T., Sophie L. Gilbert, and Adam T. Ford. 2018. Tweet success? Scientific communication correlates with increased citations in Ecology and Conservation. PeerJ 6:e4564. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4564Chan, Ho Fai, Ali Sina Önder, Sascha Schweitzer, and Benno Torgler. 2023. Twitter and citations. Economics Letters 231: 111270. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2023.111270Finch, Tom, Nina O’Hanlon, and Steve P. Dudley. 2017. Tweeting birds: online mentions predict future citations in ornithology. Royal Society Open Science 4171371. http://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171371Tonia, Thomy, Herman Van Oyen, Anke Berger, Christian Schindler, and Nino Künzli. 2020. If I tweet will you cite later? Follow-up on the effect of social media exposure on article downloads and citations. International Journal of Public Health 65: 1797–1802. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01519-8Branch, Trevor A., Isabelle M. Cȏté, Solomon R. David, Joshua A. Drew, Michelle LaRue, Melissa C. Márquez, E. C. M. Parsons, D. Rabaiotti, David Shiffman, David A. Steen, Alexander L. Wild. 2024. Controlled experiment finds no detectable citation bump from Twitter promotion. PLoS ONE 19(3): e0292201. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0292201Qiu, Jingyi, Yan Chen, Alain Cohn, and Alvin E. Roth. 2024. Social Media and Job Market Success: A Field Experiment on Twitter. SSRN Working Paper. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4778120
Training enhances the value of new technology
Mar 21 2024
Training enhances the value of new technology
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few centuries, but much of that progress is still limited to the richest countries. Why don't new technologies spread quickly throughout the world, benefiting billions of people? In this podcast, we’ll focus on one particular answer: new technologies improve productivity, but they improve productivity more when paired with knowledge on how to use them. If this is true, new technologies will be less beneficial to recipients who don’t have the knowledge to use them effectively - and thus, they may not spread as much as we expected. This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial draft) of Training enhances the value of new technology, published on New Things Under the Sun. This is a collaboration with Karthik Tadepalli, an economics PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. See here for more on New Things Under the Sun's collaboration policy.Articles mentionedComin, Diego, and Martí Mestieri. 2014. Technology Diffusion: Measurement, Causes and Consequences. In Handbook of Economic Growth, Vol. 2, eds. Philippe Aghion and Steven Durlauf. Elsevier. 565-622. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-53540-5.00002-1Verhoogen, Eric. 2023. Firm-Level Upgrading in Developing Countries. Journal of Economic Literature 61(4): 1410-64. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.20221633Giorcelli, Michela. 2019. The Long-Term Effect of Management and Technology Transfers. American Economic Review109(1): 121-152. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20170619Giorcelli, Michela, and Bo Li. 2023. Technology Transfer and Early Industrial Development: Evidence from the Sino-Soviet Alliance. SSRN Working Paper. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3758314
Teaching Innovative Entrepreneurship
Feb 19 2024
Teaching Innovative Entrepreneurship
Correction: In this podcast, I misspoke towards the end and referred to Eesley and Lee (2020) as Eesley and Wang (a 2017 paper I wrote about earlier here). Apologies to the authors.A lot of particularly interesting innovation happens at startups. Suppose we want more of this. One way we could try to get more is by giving entrepreneurship training to people who are likely to found innovative startups. Does that work? This post takes a look at some meta-analyses on the effects of entrepreneurship education, then zeroes in on a few studies focusing on entrepreneurship training for science and engineering students or which is focused on tech entrepreneurship.This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial draft) of Teaching Innovative Entrepreneurship, published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedMartin, Bruce C., Jeffrey J. McNally, and Michael J. Kay. 2013. Examining the formation of human capital in entrepreneurship: A meta-analysis of entrepreneurship education outcomes. Journal of Business Venturing 28(2): 211-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2012.03.002Carpenter, Alex, and Rachel Wilson. 2022. A systematic review looking at the effect of entrepreneurship education on higher education students. The International Journal of Management Education 20(2): 100541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2021.100541Souitaris, Vangelis, Stefania Zerbinati, and Andreas Al-Laham. 2007. Do entrepreneurship programs raise entrepreneurial intention of science and engineering students? The effect of learning, inspiration and resources. Journal of Business Venturing 22(4): 566-591. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2006.05.002Eesley, Charles E., and Yong Suk Lee. 2020. Do university entrepreneurship programs promote entrepreneurship? Strategic Management Journal 42(4): 833-861. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.3246Lyons, Elizabeth, and Lauren Zhang. 2017. Who does (not) benefit from entrepreneurship programs? Strategic Management Journal 39(1): 85-112. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2704Oster, Emily. 2016. Unobservable selection and coefficient stability: Theory and evidence. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics 37(2): 187-204. https://doi.org/10.1080/07350015.2016.1227711Wallskog, Melanie. 2022. Entrepreneurial Spillovers Across Coworkers. PhD job market paper.
Teacher Influence and Innovation
Dec 15 2023
Teacher Influence and Innovation
Here’s a striking fact: through 2022, one in two Nobel prize winners in physics, chemistry, and medicine also had a Nobel prize winner as their academic advisor.undefinedWhat accounts for this extraordinary transmission rate of scientific excellence? In this podcast I’ll focus one potential explanation: what do we know about how innovative teachers influence their students, and their students’ subsequent innovative career? I’ll focus on two strands of literatures: roughly speaking, how teachers influence what their students are interested in and the impact of their work. This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article "Teacher Influence and Innovation," originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles discussedBorowiecki, Karol Jan. 2022. Good Reverberations? Teacher Influence in Music Composition since 1450. Journal of Political Economy 130(4): 991-1090. https://doi.org/10.1086/718370Koschnick, Julius. 2023. Teacher-directed scientific change: The case of the English Scientific Revolution. PhD job market paper.Azoulay, Pierre, Christopher C. Liu, and Toby E. Stuart. 2017. Social Influence Given (Partially) Deliberate Matching: Career Imprints in the Creation of Academic Entrepreneurs. American Journal of Sociology 122(4): 1223-1271. https://doi.org/10.1086/689890Biasi, Barbara, and Song Ma. 2023. The Education-Innovation Gap. NBER Working Paper 29853. https://doi.org/10.3386/w29853Waldinger, Fabian. 2010. Quality Matters: The Expulsion of Professors and the Consequences for PhD Student Outcomes in Nazi Germany. Journal of Political Economy 118(4): 787-831. https://doi.org/10.1086/655976
When Research Over There Isn't Helpful Here
Nov 17 2023
When Research Over There Isn't Helpful Here
Much of the world’s population lives in countries in which little research happens. Is this a problem? According to classical economic models of the “ideas production function,” ideas are universal; ideas developed in one place are applicable everywhere. This is probably true enough for some contexts; but not all. In this post we’ll look at four domains - agriculture, health, the behavioral sciences, and program evaluation research - where new discoveries do not seem to have universal application across all geographies.This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article "When research over there isn't helpful here," originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedComin, Diego, and Marti Mestieri. 2014. Technology diffusion: Measurement, causes, and consequences. In Handbook of economic growth, Vol. 2, 565-622. Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-53540-5.00002-1Verhoogen, Eric. Forthcoming. Firm-level upgrading in developing countries. Journal of Economic Literature. (link)Moscona, Jacob, and Karthik Sastry. 2022. Inappropriate technology: Evidence from global agriculture. SSRN working paper. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3886019Wilson, Mary Elizabeth. 2017. The geography of infectious diseases. Infectious Diseases: 938–947.e1. https://doi.org/10.1016%2FB978-0-7020-6285-8.00106-4Wang, Ting, et al. 2022. The Human Pangenome Project: a global resource to map genomic diversity. Nature 604(7906): 437-446. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04601-8Hotez, Peter J., David H. Molyneux, Alan Fenwick, Jacob Kumaresan, Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Lorenzo Savioli. 2007. Control of neglected tropical diseases. New England Journal of Medicine 357(10): 1018-1027. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra064142Henrich, Joseph, Steven J. Heine, and Ara Norenzayan. 2010. The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33(2-3): 61-83. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152XApicella, Coren, Ara Norenzayan, and Joseph Henrich. 2020. Beyond WEIRD: A review of the last decade and a look ahead to the global laboratory of the future. Evolution and Human Behavior 41(5): 319-329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.07.015Klein Richard A., et al. 2018. Many Labs 2: Investigating Variation in Replicability Across Samples and Settings. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science. 2018;1(4):443-490. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515245918810225Schimmelpfennig, Robin, et al. 2023. A Problem in Theory and More: Measuring the Moderating Role of Culture in Many Labs 2. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/hmnrx.Vivalt, Eva. 2020. How much can we generalize from impact evaluations? Journal of the European Economic Association18(6): 3045-3089. https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvaa019Vivalt, Eva, Aidan Coville, and K. C. Sampada. 2023. Tacit versus Formal Knowledge in Policy Decisions. " rel="nofollow">
Can taste beat peer review?
Apr 24 2023
Can taste beat peer review?
Scientific peer review is widely used as a way to distribute scarce resources in academic science, whether those are scarce research dollars or scarce journal pages. At the same time, peer review has several potential short-comings. One alternative is to empower individuals to make decisions about how to allocate scientific resources. Indeed, we do this with journal editors and grant makers, though generally in consultation with peer review. Under what conditions might we expect individuals empowered to exercise independent judgement to outperform peer review?This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article "Can taste beat peer review?", originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedWagner, Caroline S., and Jeffrey Alexander. 2013. Evaluating transformative research programmes: A case study of the NSF Small Grants for Exploratory Research programme. Research Evaluation 22 (3): 187–197. https://doi.org/10.1093/reseval/rvt006Goldstein, Anna, and Michael Kearney. 2017. Uncertainty and Individual Discretion in Allocating Research Funds. Available at SSRN. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012169 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3012169Card, David, and Stefano DellaVigna. 2020. What Do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Economics Journals. The Review of Economics and Statistics 102 (1): 195–217. https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00839Teplitskiy, Misha, Hao Peng, Andrea Blasco, and Karim R. Lakhani. 2022. Is novel research worth doing? Evidence from peer review at 49 journals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119 (47): e2118046119. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2118046119
What does peer review know?
Apr 19 2023
What does peer review know?
People rag on peer review a lot (including, occasionally, New Things Under the Sun). Yet it remains one of the most common ways to allocate scientific resources, whether those be R&D dollars or slots in journals. Is this all a mistake? Or does peer review help in its purported goal to identify the science most likely to have an impact and hence, perhaps most deserving of some of those limited scientific resources?A simple way to check is to compare peer review scores to other metrics of subsequent scientific impact; does peer review predict eventual impact?A number of studies find it does. This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article What does peer review know?, originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedLi, Danielle, and Leila Agha. 2015. Big names or big ideas: Do peer-review panels select the best science proposals? Science 348(6233): 434-438. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa0185Park, Hyunwoo, Jeongsik (Jay) Lee, and Byung-Cheol Kim. 2015. Project selection in NIH: A natural experiment from ARRA. Research Policy 44(6): 1145-1159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2015.03.004.Card, David, and Stefano DellaVigna. 2020. What do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Economics Journals. The Review of Economics and Statistics 102(1): 195-217. https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00839Siler, Kyle, Kirby Lee, and Lisa Bero. 2014. Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping. PNAS 112(2): 360-365. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1418218112Teplitskiy, Misha, and Von Bakanic. 2016. Do Peer Reviews Predict Impact? Evidence from the American Sociological Review, 1978 to 1982. Socius, 2. https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023116640278
Biases Against Risky Research
Mar 30 2023
Biases Against Risky Research
A frequent worry is that our scientific institutions are risk-averse and shy away from funding transformative research projects that are high risk, in favor of relatively safe and incremental science. Why might that be?Let’s start with the assumption that high-risk, high-reward research proposals are polarizing: some people love them, some hate them. If this is true, and if our scientific institutions pay closer attention to bad reviews than good reviews, then that could be a driver of risk aversion. In this podcast, I look at three channels through which negative assessments may have outsized weight in decision-making, and how this might bias science away from transformative research.This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article Biases Against Risky Research, originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles mentionedGross, Kevin, and Carl T. Bergstrom. 2021. Why ex post peer review encourages high-risk research while ex ante review discourages it. PNAS 118(51) e2111615118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111615118Krieger, Joshua, and Ramana Nanda. 2022. Are Transformational Ideas Harder to Fund? Resource Allocation to R&D Projects at a Global Pharmaceutical Firm. Harvard Business School Working Paper 21-014. Jerrim, John, and Robert Vries. 2020. Are peer reviews of grant proposals reliable? An analysis of Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding applications. The Social Science Journal 60(1): 91-109. https://doi.org/10.1080/03623319.2020.1728506Lane, Jacqueline N., Misha Teplitskiy, Gary Gray, Harder Ranu, Michael Menietti, Eva C. Guinan, and Karim R. Lakhani. 2022. Conservatism Gets Funded? A Field Experiment on the Role of Negative Information in Novel Project Evaluation. Management Science 68(6): 3975-4753. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2021.4107
Innovators Who Immigrate
Feb 1 2023
Innovators Who Immigrate
Talent is spread equally over the planet, but opportunity is not. Today I want to look at some papers that try to quantify the costs to science and innovation from barriers to immigration. Specifically, let’s look at a set of papers on what happens to individuals with the potential to innovate when they immigrate versus when they do not. (See my post Importing Knowledge for some discussion on the impact of immigration on native scientists and inventors)This podcast is an audio read through of the (initial version of the) article Innovators Who Immigrate, originally published on New Things Under the Sun.Articles Mentioned:Agarwal, Ruchir and Patrick Gaule. 2020. Invisible Geniuses: Could the Knowledge Frontier Advance Faster? American Economic Review: Insights 2(4): 409-24. https://doi.org/10.1257/aeri.20190457Agarwal, Ruchir, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaule, and Geoff Smith. 2023. Why U.S. immigration matters for the global advancement of science. Research Policy 52(1): 104659. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2022.104659Gibson, John and David McKenzie. 2014. Scientific mobility and knowledge networks in high emigration countries: Evidence from the Pacific. Research Policy 43(9): 1486-1495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2014.04.005Kahn, Shulamit, and Megan J. MacGarvie. 2016. How Important is U.S. Location for Research in Science? The Review of Economics and Statistics 98(2): 397-414. https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00490Shi, Dongbo, Weichen Liu, and Yanbo Wang. 2023. Has China’s Young Thousand Talents Program been successful in recruiting and nurturing top-caliber scientists? Science 379(6627): 62-65. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abq1218Prato, Marta. 2022. The Global Race for Talent: Brain Drain, Knowledge Transfer, and Growth. Job market paper. https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4287268