Against the background of a continuously increasing number of scientific publications (e.g., books and papers in journals), researchers can draw from an increasing amount of existing knowledge and use it as a basis for their own research. However, this also implies that researchers need to process increasing amounts of existing knowledge before they reach the borders of their respective fields and can contribute findings themselves. The efforts to these processes might eventually show in their CVs, carriers, and research. Jones (2009) refers to these possible consequences of knowledge accumulation as a burden of knowledge. He investigates US patent data for the years 1975-1999 and finds that inventors are becoming increasingly specialized, patents are filed by increasingly large inventor teams, and that inventors file their first patent at an increasingly high age. The present research builds on Jones’s ideas and transfers his measures to publications in scientific journals. It investigates publication data on articles from renowned journals in the fields of business and finance, geography and geology, mathematics, psychology (each covering the years 1960-2009), economics (1970-2014), as well as articles from the journal Science (1960-2011). Moreover, the publication data are complemented by personal and institutional information on the respective authors of the articles (e.g., year of birth, gender, affiliation). The empirical results of the present research show that the average number of references and the average number of authors per article increased significantly for all the investigated disciplines. The results are in line with previous related research that investigated similar measures without isolating the point of completed knowledge accumulation. The present research fills this gap and thus complements the existing literature by investigating these measures specifically at authors’ first articles. The data show positive trends for these new measures. Moreover, the data show that the average age at authors’ first articles in economics and mathematics increased over the period investigated. In addition, authors in economics are increasingly specialized. Specialization is measured by the relative frequency of authors changing their subfield (indicated by JEL-Codes) within economics between their first two consecutive solo-authored articles. These results might hint at a burden of knowledge in science as described by Jones for industrial inventions. Besides investigating the burden of knowledge, a conceptual framework is developed comprising three basic principles to alleviate the burden of knowledge. The three principles are single input increase, parallel application of multiple inputs, and problem reduction and allow classifying the empirical observations.
|School:||Universitaet Bayreuth (Germany)|
|Source:||DAI-C 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Information science, Mass communications|
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