An analysis of the evolution of science-technology linkage in biomedicine

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number101074
Journal / PublicationJournal of Informetrics
Issue number4
Online published3 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


Demonstrating the practical value of public research has been an important subject in science policy. Here we present a detailed study on the evolution of the citation linkage between life science related patents and biomedical research over a 37-year period. Our analysis relies on a newly-created dataset that systematically links millions of non-patent references to biomedical papers. We find a large disparity in the volume of citations to science among technology sectors, with biotechnology and drug patents dominating it. The linkage has been growing exponentially over a long period of time, doubling every 2.9 years. The U.S. has been the largest producer of cited science for years, receiving nearly half of the citations. More than half of citations goes to universities. We use a new paper-level indicator to quantify to what extent a paper is basic research or clinical medicine. We find that the cited papers are likely to be basic research, yet a significant portion of papers cited in patents that are related to FDA-approved drugs are clinical research. The U.S. National Institute of Health continues to be an important funder of cited science. For the majority of companies, more than half of citations in their patents are authored by public research. Taken together, these results indicate a continuous linkage of public science to private sector inventions.

Research Area(s)

  • Biomedical research, Non-patent reference, Patent-to-paper citation, Public science, Science-technology interaction

Bibliographic Note

Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.