Comparing scientific and technological impact of biomedical research

Author : Qing Ke

Traditionally, the number of citations that a scholarly paper receives from other papers is used as the proxy of its scientific impact. Yet citations can come from domains outside the scientific community, and one such example is through patented technologies—paper can be cited by patents, achieving technological impact.

While the scientific impact of papers has been extensively studied, the technological aspect remains largely unknown. Here we aim to fill this gap by presenting a comparative study on how 919 thousand biomedical papers are cited by U.S. patents and by other papers over time.

We observe a positive correlation between citations from patents and from papers, but there is little overlap between the two domains in either the most cited papers, or papers with the most delayed recognition.

We also find that the two types of citations exhibit distinct temporal variations, with patent citations lagging behind paper citations for a median of 6 years for the majority of papers. Our work contributes to the understanding of the technological, and societal in general, impact of papers.


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