Economic analysis of scientific publications and implications for energy research and development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The mix of public and private funding in alternative energy research makes isolating the effect of government funding challenging. Factors such as energy prices and environmental policy influence both private and public R&D decisions, and it may take several years for public R&D’s effect on technology to be realized. Here, by combining data on scientific publications for alternative energy technologies with data on government R&D support, I provide information on the lags between research funding and new publications and link these articles to citations in US energy patents. I find that US$1 million in additional government funding leads to one to two additional publications, but with lags as long as ten years between initial funding and publication. Finally, I show that adjustment costs associated with large increases in research funding are of little concern at current levels of public energy R&D support. These results suggest that there is room to expand public R&D budgets for renewable energy, but that the impact of any such expansion may not be realized for some time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16020
JournalNature Energy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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