The hidden influence of communities in collaborative funding of clinical science

Kishore Vasan, Jevin D. West
The Royal Society Publishing
R. Soc. Open Sci. 8: 210072
August 25, 2021


Every year the National Institutes of Health allocates $10.7 billion (one-third of its funds) for clinical science research while the pharmaceutical companies spend $52.9 billion (90% of its annual budget). However, we know little about funder collaborations and the impact of collaboratively funded projects. As an initial effort towards this, we examine the co-funding network, where a funder represents a node and an edge signifies collaboration. Our core data include all papers that cite and receive citations by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, a prominent clinical review journal. We find that 65% of clinical papers have multiple funders and discover communities of funders that are formed by national boundaries and funding objectives. To quantify success in funding, we use a g-index metric that indicates efficiency of funders in supporting clinically relevant research. After controlling for authorship, we find that funders generally achieve higher success when collaborating than when solo-funding. We also find that as a funder, seeking multiple, direct connections with various disconnected funders may be more beneficial than being part of a densely interconnected network of co-funders. The results of this paper indicate that collaborations can potentially accelerate innovation, not only among authors but also funders.

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