Patents and researchers

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This is an interesting aspect when researchers work for publicly-funded institutions, and that I find it is poorly debated.

A metric for the success of a scientists is increasingly becoming the number of patents they've published. It is not enough with publishing papers, impact must be translated to society (and this is good, when it's possible).

However, patenting for academic researchers is a relatively new phenomenon. In the US this was introduced in 1980 with the Nayh-Doyle act. Not sure about Europe or other countries.

The gold rush for patenting basic research lead to an increase number of patents of very low value being awarded to universities and institutes. It's exactly the same flow as with papers (incentives to publish papers, changing scientific incentives can help overcome stagnation) and probably it'll lead to the same process of judging not just the numbers but the citations (which patents also have).

Equating patents to innovation may be a mistake. But it is hard to have a metric that incentivizes personal action.

My biggest concern is how to guarantee that patents should not be an obstacle for innovation.


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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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