Collateral Damage

A world at war on science

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Science  16 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 757
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6377.757-a

World War I pervasively reduced scientific exchange between opposing countries.

PHOTO: WELLCOME COLLECTION

As casualties mounted along the frontlines of World War I, the international scientific frontier was no exception. Iaria et al. show that the war drove down both citations of and similarities to research from scientists in the opposing camp (Allied versus Central nations). Leading-edge science was most affected. Relative to researchers whose prewar work referenced the most highly cited 5% or 3% of research from the opposing camp, prolific researchers who depended on the top 1% from behind enemy lines showed the steepest declines during the war in terms of publications in top journals, Nobel-nominated breakthroughs, introducing new scientific terms, and having those new terms mentioned in granted patents.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjx046 (2018).

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