Credit History: The Changing Nature of Scientific Credit

Joshua S. Gans, Fiona Murray

Chapter in NBER book The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy (2015), Adam B. Jaffe and Benjamin F. Jones, editors (p. 107 - 131)
Conference held August 2-3, 2013
Published in July 2015 by University of Chicago Press
© 2015 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

This paper considers the role of the allocation of scientific credit in determining the organization of science. We examine changes in that organization and the nature of credit allocation in the past half century. Our contribution is a formal model of that organizational choice that considers scientist decisions to integrate, collaborate or publish and how credit could be allocated to foster efficient outcomes. First, we focus briefly on economic and sociological perspectives on the nature of scientific credit. We then develop our perspective on the core organizational choices made by scientists as a way of motivating the central importance of scientific credit in the ways in which knowledge production is organized. We then present our "credit history" - how the institutions and norms of scientific credit have changed over the past fifty years. We do so by exploring three debates that have animated the scientific community over the past fifty years. Building on the qualitative insights from the past fifty years, we lay out a formal model that places credit allocation alongside the changing technical costs and knowledge burden of research to explore the relative importance of these three factors.

download in pdf format
   (334 K)

email paper

This paper was revised on April 4, 2017

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.7208/chicago/9780226286860.003.0005

This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w19538, Credit History: The Changing Nature of Scientific Credit, Joshua S. Gans, Fiona Murray
Users who downloaded this chapter also downloaded* these:
Feldman and Lanahan State Science Policy Experiments
Jaffe and Jones Introduction to "The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy"
Branstetter, Li, and Veloso The Rise of International Coinvention
Conti and Liu The (Changing) Knowledge Production Function: Evidence from the MIT Department of Biology for 1970–2000
Nanda, Younge, and Fleming Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us