, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 563-586
Date: 05 Mar 2011

Funding acknowledgement analysis: an enhanced tool to investigate research sponsorship impacts: the case of nanotechnology

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Abstract

There is increasing interest in assessing how sponsored research funding influences the development and trajectory of science and technology. Traditionally, linkages between research funding and subsequent results are hard to track, often requiring access to separate funding or performance reports released by researchers or sponsors. Tracing research sponsorship and output linkages is even more challenging when researchers receive multiple funding awards and collaborate with a variety of differentially-sponsored research colleagues. This article presents a novel bibliometric approach to undertaking funding acknowledgement analysis which links research outputs with their funding sources. Using this approach in the context of nanotechnology research, the article probes the funding patterns of leading countries and agencies including patterns of cross-border research sponsorship. We identify more than 91,500 nanotechnology articles published worldwide during a 12-month period in 2008–2009. About 67% of these publications include funding acknowledgements information. We compare articles reporting funding with those that do not (for reasons that may include reliance on internal core-funding rather than external awards as well as omissions in reporting). While we find some country and field differences, we judge that the level of reporting of funding sources is sufficiently high to provide a basis for analysis. The funding acknowledgement data is used to compare nanotechnology funding policies and programs in selected countries and to examine their impacts on scientific output. We also examine the internationalization of research funding through the interplay of various funding sources at national and organizational levels. We find that while most nanotechnology funding is nationally-oriented, internationalization and knowledge exchange does occur as researchers collaborate across borders. Our method offers a new approach not only in identifying the funding sources of publications but also in feasibly undertaking large-scale analyses across scientific fields, institutions and countries.