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Kevin Boyak | Jan, 27 2017

 

The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations

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 (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169383) 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. Cheers!Kevin 

Susan Fitzpatrick | Jan, 30 2017

 

Re: The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations

 

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Interesting – but what is about Human cognition that forces dichotomies – clearly one way to achieve altruistic goals is via the economy? Susan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF forum on academic issues: www.jsmf.org/clothing-the-emperor SMF blog  www.scientificphilanthropy.com     

Susan Fitzpatrick | Jan, 30 2017

 

Re: The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations

 

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Hi Marc – not sure how interesting this conversation is more generally but it is of great interest to me so perhaps we could expand on it offline?   But to respond to your post – I think there are two separate things going on …1)      My point about dichotomies is captured in your idea that there is this pull (or push) to artificially divide complex entities into “A” and a “not A”  -- I do think human cognition is biased in this way – we use heuristics to make life less effortful.    And as a language English also seems to encourage dichotomies – there is a lack of good ways for describing complex interactions, which is why we have “genes/environment” or “nature/nurture” when we know that the influences are mutually so intertwined they cannot be separated  but we have no good way of expressing the interdependence.    SO yes –if  we have research that serves “economic purposes” then there must be research that does not.    And these 2 categories are naturally distinct or at least that is what we tell ourselves.2)      The second point you are making is a related but somewhat different issue I call “semantic creep” --- so as we continue to talk what might have started out as non-economic becomes something else -  altruistic.    In psychology research this is quite common – something experimental (performance on a reaction time task) that occurs in a limited context and at a certain temporal scale becomes a marker for actions that play out in very different contexts and at very different temporal and spatial scales … so “inhibiting a pre-potent motor response”  become “inhibition” which becomes “impulsivity” then “risk-taking” then ….    You get the picture.    I think this is particularly problematic in fields of research where technical jargon and colloquialisms  overlap  – and where values and social norms underlie the way we frame research questions.I could go on and on – if you are interested in what I have encapsulated here – lets connect without bothering the whole listserve – BesT, SUSANSusan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF forum on academic issues: www.jsmf.org/clothing-the-emperor SMF blog  www.scientificphilanthropy.com     From: Marc Saner [mailto:msaner@uottawa.ca] Sent: Monday, January 30, 2017 11:32 AMTo: Susan Fitzpatrick <susan@JSMF.ORG>Cc: SCISIP@LISTSERV.NSF.GOVSubject: Re: [scisip] The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations Dear Susan,  I have been curious for a long time what the answer to your question might be (“What is it about Human cognition that forces dichotomies?”).  Similar questions come up a lot in STS. Let me try one possible answer:  the moment you describe something as, say, “economic”, you also create the idea of the “non-economic”.  Do you agree? After that, it’s a small (but very significant) step to replace “non-economic” with a label that is easier to say or better known such as “altruistic."  But maybe you meant to say, there is no good answer, it simply should not happen? Genuinely curious (and apologies if that’s the wrong topic for this list).  Marc PS: Since this is my first post to this list, let me say that I signed up in my former roles as the Inaugural Director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa, Canada. I am also the former VP at the Council of Canadian Academies.  I am now working on the issue of scientific advice.   ___________________________________________________ Dr. Marc SanerAssociate Professor | Professeur Agrégé Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics | Département de géographie, environnement et géomatique &Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) |Institut de recherche sur la science, la société et la politique   University of Ottawa | Université d’Ottawa | Simard 032Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5 - Canada msaner@uOttawa.ca @MarcSaner https://uniweb.uottawa.ca/#!/members/451http://uottawa.academia.edu/MarcSanerhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/marcsaner___________________________________________________ On Jan 30, 2017, at 11:36, Susan Fitzpatrick <susan@JSMF.ORG> wrote: Interesting – but what is about Human cognition that forces dichotomies – clearly one way to achieve altruistic goals is via the economy? Susan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF forum on academic issues: www.jsmf.org/clothing-the-emperorSMF blog  www.scientificphilanthropy.com   <image001.png>  From: Science of Science Policy Listserv [mailto:SCISIP@LISTSERV.NSF.GOV] On Behalf Of Kevin BoyackSent: Friday, January 27, 2017 4:53 PMTo: SCISIP@LISTSERV.NSF.GOVSubject: [scisip] The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations 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 (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169383) 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. Cheers!Kevin 

Eugene Arthurs | Jan, 30 2017

 

Re: The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations

 

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It may be of interest in this discussion but the number of publications from industry – which is the largest funder of r&D (not a typo) in the US and some other
countries in the study, has fallen dramatically in the last few decades as new IP and corporate interests took hold. In fact, nowadays I would suggest that a publication from industry may suggest that the topic is not valued much by the source.  
 
Eugene

 

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