Science as a Public Good: Public Use and Funding of Science

46 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021

See all articles by Yian Yin

Yian Yin

Northwestern University - Center for Science of Science and Innovation; Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO); Northwestern University - Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences

Yuxiao Dong

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kuansan Wang

Microsoft Research

Dashun Wang

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO)

Benjamin F. Jones

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 1, 2021

Abstract

Knowledge of how science is consumed in public domains is essential for a deeper understanding of the role of science in human society. While science is heavily supported by public funding, common depictions suggest that scientific research remains an isolated or ‘ivory tower’ activity, with weak connectivity to public use, little relationship between the quality of research and its public use, and little correspondence between the funding of science and its public use. This paper introduces a measurement framework to examine public good features of science, allowing us to study public uses of science, the public funding of science, and how use and funding relate. Specifically, we integrate five large-scale datasets that link scientific publications from all scientific fields to their upstream funding support and downstream public uses across three public domains - government documents, the news media, and marketplace invention. We find that the public uses of science are extremely diverse, with different public domains drawing distinctively across scientific fields. Yet amidst these differences, we find key forms of alignment in the interface between science and society. First, despite concerns that the public does not engage high-quality science, we find universal alignment, in each scientific field and public domain, between what the public consumes and what is highly impactful within science. Second, despite myriad factors underpinning the public funding of science, the resulting allocation across fields presents a striking alignment with the field’s collective public use. Overall, public uses of science present a rich landscape of specialized consumption, yet collectively science and society interface with remarkable, quantifiable alignment between scientific use, public use, and funding.

Keywords: Science of science, science funding, public good, public use

JEL Classification: O3

Suggested Citation

Yin, Yian and Dong, Yuxiao and Wang, Kuansan and Wang, Dashun and Jones, Benjamin F., Science as a Public Good: Public Use and Funding of Science (May 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3837737 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3837737

Yian Yin (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Center for Science of Science and Innovation ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO) ( email )

Chambers Hall
600 Foster Street
Evanston, IL 60208-4057
United States

Northwestern University - Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences ( email )

2145 Sheridan Road
Room C210
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Yuxiao Dong

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kuansan Wang

Microsoft Research ( email )

Redomond, WA 98052

Dashun Wang

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO) ( email )

Chambers Hall
600 Foster Street
Evanston, IL 60208-4057
United States

Benjamin F. Jones

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-3177 (Phone)
847-467-1777 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
22
Abstract Views
127
PlumX Metrics