[Sigmetrics] The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations

Kevin Boyack kboyack at mapofscience.com
Tue Jan 31 15:20:50 EST 2017

Dear Colleagues,


I wanted to bring to your attention a paper that Dick Klavans and I recently
had published in PLOS One that we hope will contribute to discussions of the
different motives behind scientific progress, along with the appropriateness
of metrics to address different motives.


The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations


What motivates the research strategies of nations and institutions? We
suggest that research primarily serves two masters - altruism and economic
growth. Some nations focus more research in altruistic (or non-economic)
fields while others focus more research in fields associated with economic
growth. What causes this difference? Are there characteristics that would
suggest why a nation is more aligned with altruism or economic growth? To
answer this question, we have identified nine major fields of research by
analyzing the publication activity of 4429 institutions using Scopus data.
Two fields of research are clearly altruistic (there is relatively little
involvement by industry) and two fields are clearly aligned with economic
growth. The altruistic vs. economic nature of nations based on their
publication profiles across these fields is correlated with national
indicators on wealth, education, capitalism, individualism, power, religion,
and language. While previous research has suggested that national research
strategy is aligned with national wealth, our analysis shows that national
wealth is not highly correlated with the tradeoff between altruistic and
economic motives. Instead, the tradeoff is largely captured by a culture of
individualism. Accordingly, implications for national research strategies
are discussed.


With apologies for cross-posting.






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