Productivity growth in developed countries has been slowing down, threatening to cause a long-term stagnation in living standards. One contributing factor could be that it’s getting more expensive to find new scientific and technological ideas. Economists Nicholas Bloom, Charles I. Jones, John Van Reenen and Michael Webb recently tried to measure innovation in various fields and found that more and more researchers were needed to produce the same pace of discovery.
A recent study looked at the way National Institutes of Health research grants are awarded, and finds a major inefficiency — too many dollars are flowing to big, famous laboratories. The study found that — unsurprisingly — prestigious institutions like Harvard and Stanford get more funding than low-ranked institutions like the University of North Dakota or the University of Mississippi. It also found that the less-prestigious institutions tend to do more with less.
Based on citation impact — the number of citations given to papers published as a result of the grants, adjusted for the quality of the journals in which the citations occur — West Virginia University rated third highest in cost-effective research rankings.