, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 271–294 | Cite as

University patenting activities and their link to the quantity and quality of scientific publications

  • Poh Kam Wong
  • Annette Singh


Integrating data from three independent data sources––USPTO patenting data, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and the Times Higher Education Supplement’s World University Ranking (WUR), we examine the possible link between patenting output and the quantity and quality of scientific publications among 281 leading universities world-wide. We found that patenting by these universities, as measured by patents granted by the USPTO, has grown consistently faster than overall US patenting over 1977–2000, although it has grown more slowly over the last 5 years (2000–2005). Moreover, since the mid-1990s, patenting growth has been faster among universities outside North America than among those within North America. We also found that the patenting output of the universities over 2003–2005 is significantly correlated with the quantity and quality of their scientific publications. However, significant regional variations are found: for universities in North America, both the quantity and quality of scientific publications matter, but for European and Australian/NZ universities, only the quantity of publications matter, while for other universities outside North America and Europe/Australia/NZ, only quality of publications matter. We found similar findings when using EPO patenting data instead of USPTO data. Additionally, for USPTO data only, the degree of internationalization of faculty members is found to reduce patenting performance among North American universities, but to increase that of universities outside North America. Plausible explanations for these empirical observations and implications for future research are discussed.


University patenting Publication quantity & quality Technology commercialization 


  1. Agrawal, A., & Henderson, R. (2002). Putting patents in context: Exploring knowledge transfer from MIT. Management Science, 4(1), 44–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. AUTM. (2005). AUTM Canadian licensing survey: FY2004. Survey summary.
  3. Azagra-Caro, J. M., Archontakis, F., & Yegros-Yegros, A. (2007). In which regions do universities patent and publish more? Scientometrics, 70(2), 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baldini, N. (2006). The patenting universities: Problems and perils, MRPA Paper No. 853, Munich Personal RePEc Archive.
  5. Bourke, P., Butler, L., & Biglia, B. (1999). A bibliometric analysis of Biolgical Sciences Research in Australia. Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University.
  6. Buela-Casal, G., Gutiérrez-Martínez, O., Bermúdez-Sánchez, M. P., & Vadillo-Muñozb, O. (2007). Comparative study of international academic rankings of universities. Scientometrics, 71(3), 349–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cesaroni, F., & Piccaluga, A. (2005). Universities and intellectual property rights in Southern European countries. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 17(4), 497–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DiGregorio, D., & Shane, S. (2003). Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others? Research Policy, 32(2), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Etzkowitz, H. (2003). Innovation in innovation: The triple helix of university-industry- government relations. Social Science Information, 42(3), 293–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Etzkowitz, H., Webster, A., Gebhardt, C., & Terra, B. R. C. (2000). The future of the university and the university of the future: Evolution of ivory tower to entrepreneurial paradigm. Research Policy, 29(2), 313–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Florian, R. V. (2007). Irreproducibility of the results of the Shanghai academic ranking of world universities. Scientometrics, 72(1), 25–32.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  12. Foltz, J. D., Barham, B. L., & Kim, K. (2000). Universities and agricultural biotechnology patent production. Agribusiness, 16(1), 82–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foltz, J. D., Barham, B. L., & Kim, K. (2007). Synergies of trade-offs in university life sciences research. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 89(2), 353–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedman, J., & Silberman, J. (2003). University technology transfer: Do incentives, management, and location matter? Journal of Technology Transfer, 28(1), 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Geuna, A., & Nesta, L. J. J. (2006). University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence. Research Policy, 35(6), 790–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall, B., Jaffe, A., & Trajtenberg, M. (2005). Market value and patent citations. Rand Journal of Economics, 36, 16–38.Google Scholar
  17. Henderson, R., Jaffe, A. B., & Tratjenberg, M. (1998). Universities as a source of commercial technology: A detailed analysis of university patenting, 1965–1988. Review of Economics and Statistics, 80(1), 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jaffe, A. B., & Trajtenberg, M. (2002). Patents, citations & innovations: A window on the knowledge economy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lach, S., & Schankerman, M. (2003). Incentives and invention in universities. NBER Working Paper Series, Paper No. 9727.Google Scholar
  20. Landry, R., Amara, N., & Reherrad, I. (2006). Why are some university researchers more likely to create spin-offs than others? Evidence from Canadian universities. Research Policy, 35(10), 1599–1615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Landry, R., Amara, N., & Saïhi, M. (2005). Patenting and spin-off creation by Canadian researchers in engineering and life sciences. Paper presenting at bringing science to life workshop, Institute for International Business, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, 29 April–1 May 2005.Google Scholar
  22. Marginson, S., & Van Der Wende, M. (2007). Globalization and higher education. OECD education working paper no. 8. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  23. Meyer, M. (2003). Academic patents as an indicator of useful research? A new approach to measure academic inventiveness. Research Evaluation, 12(1), 17–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meyer, M. (2006). Are patenting scientists the better scholars? An exploratory comparison of inventor-authors with their non-inventing peers in nano-science and technology. Research Policy, 35(10), 1646–1662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mowery, D. C., Nelson, R. R., Sampat, B. N., & Ziedonis, A. A. (2001). The growth of patenting and licensing by U.S. universities: An assessment of the effects of the Bayh–Dole Act of 1980. Research Policy, 30(1), 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mowery, D. C., & Ziedonis, A. A. (2002). Academic patent quality and quantity before and after the Bayh–Dole act in the United States. Research Policy, 31, 399–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Noyons, E. C. M., van Raan, A. F. J., Grupp, H., & Schmoch, U. (1994). Exploring the science and technology interface: Inventor-author relations in laser medicine research. Research Policy, 23(4), 443–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. O’Shea, R. P., Allen, T. J., Chevalier, A., & Roche, F. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation, technology transfer and spinoff performance of U.S. universities. Research Policy, 34(7), 994–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Owen-Smith, J. (2003). From separate systems to a hybrid order: Accumulative advantage across public and private science at research one universities. Research Policy, 32(6), 1081–1104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Owen-Smith, J., & Powell, W. W. (2003). The expanding role of university patenting in the life sciences: Assessing the importance of experience and connectivity. Research Policy, 32(9), 1695–1711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Payne, A. A., & Siow, A. (2003). Does Federal research funding increase university research output? Advances in Economic Analysis & Policy, 3(1), Article 1.Google Scholar
  32. Powell, W. W., & Owen-Smith, J. (1998). Universities and the market for intellectual property in the life sciences. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 17(2), 253–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Powers, J. B. (2003). Commercializing academic research: Resource effects on performance of university technology transfer. The Journal of Higher Education, 74(1), 26–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shane, S. (2004). Encouraging university entrepreneurship. The effect of the Bayh–Dole Act on university patenting in the United States. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(1), 127–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Siegel, D. S., Waldman, D. A., Atwater, L. E., & Link, A. N. (2003). Commercial knowledge transfers from universities to firms: Improving the effectiveness of university-industry collaboration. Journal of High Technology Management Research, 14(1), 111–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sine, W. D., Shane, S., & DiGregorio, D. (2003). The halo effect and technology licensing: The influence of institutional prestige on the licensing of university inventions. Management Science, 49(4), 478–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Snow, D. (2006). Capturing benefits from tomorrow’s technology in today’s products: The effect of absorptive capacity. Harvard Business School Working Papers, HBS Working Paper Number: 07-009.Google Scholar
  38. Stephan, P. E., Gurmu, S., Sumell, A. J., & Black, G. (2005). Who’s patenting in the university? Evidence from the survey of doctorate recipients. Forthcoming in Economics of Innovation and New Technology. Retrieved April 3, 2007, from
  39. Trajtenberg, M. (1990). A penny for your quotes: Patent citations and the value of innovations. Research Policy, 21(1), 172–187.Google Scholar
  40. Trajtenberg, M. (2001). Innovation in Israel 1968–1997: A comparative analysis using patent data. Research Policy, 30(3), 363–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. van Raan, A. F. J. (2005). Fatal attraction: Conceptual and methodological problems in the ranking of universities by bibliometric methods. Scientometrics, 62(1), 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Verspagen, B. (2006). University research, intellectual property rights and European innovation systems. Journal of Economic Surveys, 20(4), 607–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wong, P. K., Allen, K., et al. (2002). Survey of technology transfer and wealth creation (T2WC) Among APRU member universities: Survey report. Singapore: NUS Entrepreneurship Centre.Google Scholar
  44. Zucker, L., & Darby, M. (1996). Star scientists and institutional transformation: Patterns of invention and innovation in the formation of the biotechnology industry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 93(23), 12709–12716.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NUS Entrepreneurship CentreNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations