Policy-Relevant Science: The Depth and Breadth of Support Networks

  • Bruce A. DesmaraisEmail author
  • John A. Hird
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


Proponents of basic science argue that objective scientific understanding can inform improvement in public policy. We gather data on scientific research cited in official benefit-cost analyses produced by US federal regulatory agencies to justify policy decisions between 2008 and 2012. We construct a science-policy network in which benefit-cost analyses and the studies they cite are the nodes, and citations represent the edges. We assess two features of each scientific publication in the network; how frequently is it used; and how broadly it spans across the network, as measured by betweenness centrality. We ask which author affiliations and funders are associated with the best-cited and farthest spanning publications. Elite universities and major government funders support publications that are most heavily cited, but the farthest spanning articles are written by scientists with non-academic affiliations and sponsored by non-governmental funders. These results suggest that bias towards academically affiliated investigators should be scrutinized by major funding organizations if a major objective is to support science that is used by policymakers.


Scientometrics Policy networks Regulation 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State University, University ParkState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.University of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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