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Berkeley Innovation Seminar, Feb 27

Scientific journals serve as two-sided knowledge platforms that facilitate the diffusion of scientific knowledge. Journals offer an outlet for scientists to disclose their findings in a way that allow them to highlight the importance of their discoveries (via the review process and the reputation of a journal) and, at the same time, are the principal means by which follow-on researchers can gain detailed access to the knowledge underlying scientific discoveries. For scientific discoveries with potential commercial applicability, researchers (or their funders) may also seek to establish formal intellectual property protection (e.g., patents); choosing to establish a “patent-paper pair” allows researchers to influence follow-on access to knowledge disclosed in a given scientific platform. This paper evaluates the interrelationship between scientific journal publication and patenting by examining the incidence and impact of patent-paper pairs in two journals founded in the late 1990s/early 2000s; Nature Biotechnology and Nature Materials, which serve as very similar platforms in their respective fields. We develop a dataset based on all research publications in these journals from their founding through the mid-2000s, and on citations to and from these papers. Patent-paper pairs are much more likely to be associated with research discoveries in which at least one author is employed by the private sector, and are also much more likely for articles with at least one United States author. Publications associated with patent-paper pairs have a higher overall rate of citation, but this finding masks significant heterogeneity across time and across journals. For example, patent-paper pairs published in the first few years after each journal is founded receive much lower level of citations. Using a differences-in-differences framework that exploits the delay between publication and patent grant, we find that the negative impact of patent grant is concentrated in the first few years after journal founding. Finally, after patent grant, there is an increase in citation by follow-on research published in other journals but a decline in citations in follow-on research published in the originating journal. Similar to recent evidence of the interrelationship between standard-setting organizations and intellectual property, our findings highlight the role of scientific journals as a particular type of two-sided platform, and the subtle impact of intellectual property in shaping the use of knowledge disclosed and accessed through that platform.