Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Creativity in science and innovation

How to stimulate novel research in science and innovation

Jian Wang


A small number of breakthroughs contribute disproportionally to the advancement of science and technology, as well as economic and societal development.  Research that underpins breakthroughs often requires novel and risky approaches that explore unchartered waters.  However, there is increasing concern that funding agencies are risk-averse and that the current system is failing in producing enough novel research.  Therefore, this project aims to better understand novelty in science and innovation and inform policymaking and management practices.

Building on the psychology and sociology literatures on creativity, this project explores determinants of creativity and novelty at team and network levels, for example, how does team size, division of labor, and network tie configuration affect creativity.  From an economist’s perspective, this project also addresses the question of how to incentivize novel research, in particular, how does funding policy affects research outcome in terms of novelty? 

For answering these questions, this project exploits large databases of scientific publications and patents and develops large scale ex ante measures of novelty for individual publications and patents.  These indicators are then integrated with other data sources, such as survey and archival information about research teams and individuals, for exploring various organizational and economic explanations for novelty and creativity. 

Selected publications

Wang J., Veugelers R. & Stephan P. (2017), Bias against novelty in science: A cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators, Research Policy 46(8): 1416-1436.

Stephan P., Veugelers R. & Wang J. (2017), Blinkered by bibliometrics, Nature 544(7651): 411-412.

Wang J. (2016), Knowledge creation in collaboration networks: Effects of tie configuration, Research Policy 45(1): 68-80.

Lee Y., Walsh J. & Wang J. (2015), Creativity in scientific teams: Unpacking novelty and impact, Research Policy 44(3): 684-697.

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