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Thursday, December 27, 2012



American Poetry and Private Real Property

Eric Rawson
Journal of American Studies, forthcoming

This article examines the ways in which American poetic practice and thematics map a conception of private real property as it has developed uniquely on the North American continent. I explore how the Land Ordinance of 1790, the Preemption Act, the Homestead Act, and other land-use policies shaped a conception of the developing landscape as divisible into a vast agglomeration of private enterprises mediated primarily by the transfer of title deeds. The impact of private real property beliefs and practices, I argue, has shaped both the practice and the reception of American poetry (and other cultural products) for at least the last 150 years. I incorporate the insights of cultural geography - particularly the work of John B.
Jackson, Carl Sauer, and Scott Freundschuh - to understand how the last century's building practices and the reorganization of the landscape, particularly in western metropolitan areas, find imaginative expression in poetry. Although mine is not a law-in-literature approach, I contend that modern/postmodern poetry operates in a way that depends on the very exchange values of the late capitalist property system it often critiques.


The nonsense math effect

Kimmo Eriksson
Judgment and Decision Making, November 2012, Pages 746-749

Mathematics is a fundamental tool of research. Although potentially applicable in every discipline, the amount of training in mathematics that students typically receive varies greatly between different disciplines. In those disciplines where most researchers do not master mathematics, the use of mathematics may be held in too much awe. To demonstrate this I conducted an online experiment with 200 participants, all of which had experience of reading research reports and a postgraduate degree (in any subject).
Participants were presented with the abstracts from two published papers (one in evolutionary anthropology and one in sociology). Based on these abstracts, participants were asked to judge the quality of the research.
Either one or the other of the two abstracts was manipulated through the inclusion of an extra sentence taken from a completely unrelated paper and presenting an equation that made no sense in the context. The abstract that included the meaningless mathematics tended to be judged of higher quality.
However, this "nonsense math effect" was not found among participants with degrees in mathematics, science, technology or medicine.



Pierre Azoulay et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2012

To what extent does "false science" impact the rate and direction of scientific change? We examine the impact of more than 1,100 scientific retractions on the citation trajectories of articles that are close neighbors of retracted articles in intellectual space but were published prior to the retraction event. Our results indicate that following retraction and relative to carefully selected controls, related articles experience a lasting five to ten percent decline in the rate at which they are cited. We probe the mechanisms that might underlie these negative spillovers over intellectual space. One view holds that adjacent fields atrophy post-retraction because the shoulders they offer to follow-on researchers have been proven to be shaky or absent. An alternative view holds that scientists avoid the "infected" fields lest their own status suffers through mere association. Two pieces of evidence are consistent with the latter view. First, for-profit citers are much less responsive to the retraction event than are academic citers. Second, the penalty suffered by related articles is much more severe when the associated retracted article includes fraud or misconduct, relative to cases where the retraction occurred because of honest mistakes.


The Novelty Paradox & Bias for Normal Science: Evidence from Randomized Medical Grant Proposal Evaluations

Kevin Boudreau et al.
Harvard Working Paper, December 2012

Central to any innovation process is the evaluation of proposed projects and allocation of resources. We investigate whether novel research projects, those deviating from existing research paradigms, are treated with a negative bias in expert evaluations. We analyze the results of a peer review process for medical research grant proposals at a leading medical research university, in which we recruited 142 expert university faculty members to evaluate 150 submissions, resulting in 2,130 randomly-assigned proposal-evaluator pair observations. Our results confirm a systematic penalty for novel proposals; a standard deviation increase in novelty drops the expected rank of a proposal by 4.5 percentile points. This discounting is robust to various controls for unobserved proposal quality and alternative explanations. Additional tests suggest information effects rather than strategic effects account for the novelty penalty. Only a minority of the novelty penalty could be related to perceptions of lesser feasibility of novel proposals.


Predicting the Path of Technological Innovation: SAW vs. Moore, Bass, Gompertz, and Kryder

Ashish Sood et al.
Marketing Science, forthcoming

Competition is intense among rival technologies, and success depends on predicting their future trajectory of performance. To resolve this challenge, managers often follow popular heuristics, generalizations, or "laws" such as Moore's law. We propose a model, Step And Wait (SAW), for predicting the path of technological innovation, and we compare its performance against eight models for 25 technologies and 804 technologies-years across six markets. The estimates of the model provide four important results. First, Moore's law and Kryder's law do not generalize across markets; neither holds for all technologies even in a single market. Second, SAW produces superior predictions over traditional methods, such as the Bass model or Gompertz law, and can form predictions for a completely new technology by incorporating information from other categories on time-varying covariates. Third, analysis of the model parameters suggests that (i) recent technologies improve at a faster rate than old technologies; (ii) as the number of competitors increases, performance improves in smaller steps and longer waits; (iii) later entrants and technologies that have a number of prior steps tend to have smaller steps and shorter waits; but (iv) technologies with a long average wait time continue to have large steps. Fourth, technologies cluster in their performance by market.


How Motion Pictures Industrialized Entertainment

Gerben Bakker
Journal of Economic History, December 2012, Pages 1036-1063

Motion pictures constituted a revolutionary new technology that transformed entertainment - a rival, labor-intensive service - into a non-rival commodity. Combining growth accounting with a new output concept shows productivity growth in entertainment surpassed that in any manufacturing industry between 1900 and 1938. Productivity growth in personal services was not stagnant by definition, as current understanding has it, but instead was unparalleled in some cases. Motion pictures' contribution to aggregate GDP and TFP growth was much smaller than that of general purpose technologies steam, railways, and electricity, but not insignificant. An observer might have noted that "motion pictures are everywhere except in the productivity statistics."


Panoramic Vision, Telegraphic Language: Selling the American West, 1869-1884

Jennifer Raab
Journal of American Studies, forthcoming

Along with Appleton and Rand McNally, George A. Crofutt helped to establish and popularize the genre of the general traveller's guidebook in the United States. From 1869 to 1884, Crofutt would sell millions of his guides to the American West, which he distinguished from the competition by including copious illustrations. Although the guidebooks claim to arrange and order the West for easy, and almost passive, consumption - to "tell you what is worth seeing" - this article argues that there are two different yet also complimentary modes of representation operating in these popular works.
While the images express a "panoramic" mode of vision, evoking the mythology of the endless frontier and a divinely inspired manifest destiny, the text exemplifies a "telegraphic" language based on instantaneity, fragmentation, and velocity - the thrilling, and disorienting, compression of time and space made possible by the railroad and the telegraph. Crofutt's railroad guidebooks mark a double transition: a historical shift in the concept of the West as a limitless, undefined frontier to a region of commerce and culture, and a corresponding aesthetic shift from a mode of representation based upon mythic expansiveness to one that mimics discrete aspects of modernity.


The Market Value of Secrecy: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Kenneth Younge & Matt Marx
University of California Working Paper, September 2012

In order to invest in R&D, firms seek to protect the knowledge they create.
While patenting is a frequently studied appropriability mechanism, little is known about secrecy. We estimate the value of employee non-compete agreements - widely used to protect trade secrets - by exploiting an inadvertent Michigan policy reversal as a natural experiment. Tobin's q grew by 25% once firms were able to use non-competes to capture value, primarily in sectors where secrecy is reportedly more important. The effect was eventually reversed, however, as firms' ability to create value was compromised. Evidence from patent records indicates that Michigan firms became increasingly myopic: R&D teams were less diverse, and projects were less broad technically and relied upon older prior art - consistent with the limited circulation of talent and ideas engendered by non-compete enforcement.


Orwell's Armchair

Derek Bambauer
University of Chicago Law Review, Summer 2012, Pages 863-944

America has begun to censor the Internet. Defying conventional scholarly wisdom that Supreme Court precedent bars Internet censorship, federal and state governments are increasingly using indirect methods to engage in "soft" blocking of online material. This Article assesses these methods and makes a controversial claim: hard censorship, such as the PROTECT IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts, are normatively preferable to indirect restrictions. It introduces a taxonomy of five censorship strategies: direct control, deputizing intermediaries, payment, pretext, and persuasion. It next makes three core claims. First, only one strategy - deputizing intermediaries - is limited significantly by current law. Government retains considerable freedom of action to employ the other methods and has begun to do so. Second, the Article employs a process-based methodology to argue that indirect censorship strategies are less legitimate than direct regulation.
Lastly, it proposes using specialized legislation if the United States decides to conduct Internet censorship and sets out key components that a statute must include to be legitimate, with the goal of aligning censorship with prior restraint doctrine. It concludes by assessing how soft Internet censorship affects current scholarly debates over the state's role in shaping information online, sounding a skeptical note about government's potential to balance communication.


Six Decades of Top Economics Publishing: Who and How?

Daniel Hamermesh
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

Presenting data on all full-length articles published in the three top general economics journals for one year in each of the 1960s through 2010s, I analyze how patterns of co-authorship, age structure and methodology have changed, and what the possible causes of these changes may have been. The entire distribution of number of authors has shifted steadily rightward. In the last two decades the fraction of older authors has almost quadrupled.
The top journals are now publishing many fewer papers that represent pure theory, regardless of sub-field, somewhat less empirical work based on publicly available data sets, and many more empirical studies based on data assembled for the study by the author(s) or on laboratory or field experiments.


Replications in Psychology Research: How Often Do They Really Occur?

Matthew Makel, Jonathan Plucker & Boyd Hegarty
Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2012, Pages 537-542

Recent controversies in psychology have spurred conversations about the nature and quality of psychological research. One topic receiving substantial attention is the role of replication in psychological science.
Using the complete publication history of the 100 psychology journals with the highest 5-year impact factors, the current article provides an overview of replications in psychological research since 1900. This investigation revealed that roughly 1.6% of all psychology publications used the term replication in text. A more thorough analysis of 500 randomly selected articles revealed that only 68% of articles using the term replication were actual replications, resulting in an overall replication rate of 1.07%.
Contrary to previous findings in other fields, this study found that the majority of replications in psychology journals reported similar findings to their original studies (i.e., they were successful replications). However, replications were significantly less likely to be successful when there was no overlap in authorship between the original and replicating articles.
Moreover, despite numerous systemic biases, the rate at which replications are being published has increased in recent decades.


A Comprehensive Survey of Retracted Articles from the Scholarly Literature

Michael Grieneisen & Minghua Zhang
PLoS ONE, October 2012

Background: The number of retracted scholarly articles has risen precipitously in recent years. Past surveys of the retracted literature each limited their scope to articles in PubMed, though many retracted articles are not indexed in PubMed. To understand the scope and characteristics of retracted articles across the full spectrum of scholarly disciplines, we surveyed 42 of the largest bibliographic databases for major scholarly fields and publisher websites to identify retracted articles. This study examines various trends among them.

Results: We found, 4,449 scholarly publications retracted from 1928-2011.
Unlike Math, Physics, Engineering and Social Sciences, the percentages of retractions in Medicine, Life Science and Chemistry exceeded their percentages among Web of Science (WoS) records. Retractions due to alleged publishing misconduct (47%) outnumbered those due to alleged research misconduct (20%) or questionable data/interpretations (42%). This total exceeds 100% since multiple justifications were listed in some retraction notices. Retraction/WoS record ratios vary among author affiliation countries. Though widespread, only miniscule percentages of publications for individual years, countries, journals, or disciplines have been retracted.
Fifteen prolific individuals accounted for more than half of all retractions due to alleged research misconduct, and strongly influenced all retraction characteristics. The number of articles retracted per year increased by a factor of 19.06 from 2001 to 2010, though excluding repeat offenders and adjusting for growth of the published literature decreases it to a factor of 11.36.

Conclusions: Retracted articles occur across the full spectrum of scholarly disciplines. Most retracted articles do not contain flawed data; and the authors of most retracted articles have not been accused of research misconduct. Despite recent increases, the proportion of published scholarly literature affected by retraction remains very small. Articles and editorials discussing retractions, or their relation to research integrity, should always consider individual cases in these broad contexts. However, better mechanisms are still needed for raising researchers' awareness of the retracted literature in their field.


Spreading the Word: Geography, Policy and Knowledge Spillovers

Sharon Belenzon & Mark Schankerman
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Using new data on citations to university patents and scientific publications, we study how geography affects university knowledge spillovers. Citations to patents decline sharply with distance and are strongly constrained by state borders. The effect of distance on citations to scientific publications is less sharp, and the state border effect on publications is significant only for lower quality public universities. We show that the state border effect is heterogeneous and strongly influenced by university/state characteristics and policies. It is larger for universities that are public and that have strong local development policies, and in states with strong non-compete labor laws, greater reliance on in-state educated scientists, and lower rates of interstate scientific labor mobility. We confirm the impact of non-compete statutes by studying a policy reform in Michigan.


Cognitive Mobility: Labor Market Responses to Supply Shocks in the Space of Ideas

George Borjas & Kirk Doran
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

Knowledge producers who are conducting research on a particular set of questions may respond to supply and demand shocks by shifting their resources to a different set of questions. Cognitive mobility measures the transition from one location in idea space to another location in that space. This paper examines the cognitive mobility flows unleashed by the influx of a large number of Soviet mathematicians into the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Our analysis exploits the fact that the influx of Soviet mathematicians into the American mathematics community was larger in some fields than in others. The data reveal substantial cognitive mobility in response to the influx, with American mathematicians moving away from, rather than moving to, fields that likely received large numbers of Soviet émigrés. It appears that diminishing returns in specific research areas, rather than beneficial human capital spillovers, dominated the cognitive mobility decisions of pre-existing knowledge producers.


Prizes and the Publication of Ideas

Petra Moser & Tom Nicholas
Harvard Working Paper, September 2012

We examine whether prizes encourage innovation and, if so, how. We compare changes in U.S. patents per year for technology areas where U.S. inventors won prizes for exceptional innovations at the World's Fair in London in 1851 with technology areas where U.S. inventors exhibited but did not win a prize. We also compare changes in technology areas for inventions that were advertised in 1851 as lead articles in the Scientific American, a major science journal of the time. We find comparable increases in invention after 1851 through prizes and publication relative to other U.S. technologies.
Since the signaling component of a World's Fair prize was replicated through publication of an invention in the Scientific American, our results suggest that publicity for promising research fields is an important mechanism by which prizes encourage innovation.


More Bits - More Bucks? Measuring the Impact of Broadband Internet on Firm Performance

Irene Bertschek, Daniel Cerquera & Gordon Klein
Information Economics and Policy, forthcoming

The paper provides empirical evidence for the causal impact of broadband Internet on firms' labour productivity and realised process and product innovations. The analysis refers to the early phase of DSL expansion in Germany from 2001 to 2003, when roughly 60 percent of the German firms already used broadband Internet. Identification relies on instrumental variable estimation taking advantage of information on the availability of DSL broadband at the postal code level. The results show that broadband Internet has no impact on firms' labour productivity, whereas it exhibits a positive and significant impact on their innovation activity.


The Role of Financial Education in the Management of Retirement Savings

Ann Marie Hibbert, Edward Lawrence & Arun Prakash
Journal of Behavioral Finance, Fall 2012, Pages 299-307

We investigate the role of financial education in the management of Defined Contribution retirement savings plans. We survey Finance and English professors from universities across the United States and compare the management of their savings in the TIAA-CREF® plans. We find that compared with English professors, Finance professors allocate a larger share of their retirement savings to equities, they manage their retirement portfolios more actively, and they are less likely to practice naïve diversification strategies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM