NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Michael Roach

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Working Papers

August 2012Lens or Prism? Patent Citations as a Measure of Knowledge Flows from Public Research
with Wesley M. Cohen: w18292
This paper assesses the validity and accuracy of firms’ backward patent citations as a measure of knowledge flows from public research by employing a newly constructed dataset that matches patents to survey data at the level of the R&D lab. Using survey-based measures of the dimensions of knowledge flows, we identify sources of systematic measurement error associated with backward citations to both patent and nonpatent references. We find that patent citations reflect the codified knowledge flows from public research, but they appear to miss knowledge flows that are more private and contract-based in nature, as well as those used in firm basic research. We also find that firms’ patenting and citing strategies affect patent citations, making citations less indicative of knowledge flows. In ...

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