Credit History: The Changing Nature of Scientific Credit
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.
We thank Susan Scotchmer, Ben Jones and participants at the NBER Changing Frontier conference for helpful comments. Responsibility for all views expressed lies with the authors. The latest version of this paper is available at research.joshuagans.com.
Joshua S. Gans
During the course of this research I worked at Microsoft Research. Microsoft has a broad interest in intellectual property matters but this paper was independent of any work done for them.
Funding from the Sloan Foundation is acknowledged.