IRIS researchers will post working papers to repositories such as the NBER ( and the Entrepreneurship Research & Policy Network (EPRN) ( The list below shows selected research publications using UMETRICS and IRIS data authored by IRIS PIs. For a more complete list, download the bibliography linked at right.

Federal Funding of Doctoral Recipients: What Can Be Learned From Linked Data

Wan-Ying Chang, Wei Cheng, Julia Lane, and Bruce Weinberg
Research Policy, available online 14 March 2019

This technical note describes the results of a pilot approach to link administrative and survey data to better describe the richness and complexity of the research enterprise. In particular, we demonstrate how multiple funding channels can be studied by bringing together two disparate datasets: UMETRICS, which is based on university payroll and financial records, and the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which is one of the most important US survey datasets about the doctoral workforce. We show how it is possible to link data on research funding and the doctorally qualified workforce to describe how many individuals are supported in different disciplines and by different agencies. We outline the potential for more work as the UMETRICS data expands to incorporate more linkages and more access is provided.

Proximity and Economic Activity: An Analysis of Vendor-University Transactions

Nathan Goldschlag, Julia Lane, Bruce Weinberg and Nikolas Zolas
Journal of Regional Science, January 2019
Volume 59, Issue 1, Pages 163-182

This paper uses transaction-based data to provide new insights into the link between the geographic proximity of businesses and associated economic activity. It develops two new measures of, and a set of stylized facts about, the distances between observed transactions between customers and vendors for a research intensive sector. Spending on research inputs is more likely with businesses physically closer to universities than those further away. Firms supplying a university project in one year are more likely to subsequently open an establishment near that university. Vendors who have supplied a project, are subsequently more likely to be a vendor on the same or related project.

Research Universities and the Public Good: Discovery for an Uncertain Future

Jason Owen-Smith
Stanford University Press, September 2018
ISBN: 9781503601949


In a political climate that is skeptical of hard-to-measure outcomes, public funding for research universities is under threat. But if we scale back support for these institutions, we also cut off a key source of value creation in our economy and society. Research Universities and the Public Good offers a unique view of how universities work, what their purpose is, and why they are important.

Countering recent arguments that we should “unbundle” or “disrupt” higher education, Jason Owen-Smith argues that research universities are valuable gems that deserve support. While they are complex and costly, their enduring value is threefold: they simultaneously act as sources of new knowledge, anchors for regional and national communities, and hubs that connect disparate parts of society. These distinctive features allow them, more than any other institution, to innovate in response to new problems and opportunities. Presenting numerous case studies that show how research universities play these three roles and why they matter, this book offers a fresh and stirring defense of the research university.

Measuring the Economic Value of Research: The Case of Food Safety

Kaye Husbands Fealing, Julia I. LaneJohn L. King, and Stanley R. Johnson editors
Cambridge University Press, December 2017
ISBN: 9781316612415

The scientific advances that underpin economic growth and human health would not be possible without research investments. Yet demonstrating the impact of research programs is a challenge, especially in areas that span disciplines, industrial sectors, and encompass both public and private sector activity. All areas of research are under pressure to demonstrate benefits from federal funding of research. This exciting and innovative study demonstrates new methods and tools to trace the impact of federal research funding on the structure of research, and the subsequent economic activities of funded researchers. The case study is food safety research, which is critical to avoiding outbreaks of disease. The authors make use of an extraordinary new data infrastructure and apply new techniques in text analysis. Focusing on the impact of US federal food safety research, this book develops vital data-intensive methodologies that have a real world application to many other scientific fields.

Why the US science and engineering workforce is aging rapidly

David Blau and Bruce A. Weinberg
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Early Edition: approved February 14, 2017

The science and engineering workforce has aged rapidly in recent years, both in absolute terms and relative to the workforce as a whole. This is a potential concern if the large number of older scientists crowds out younger scientists, making it difficult for them to establish independent careers. In addition, scientists are believed to be most creative earlier in their careers, so the aging of the workforce may slow the pace of scientific progress. We develop and simulate a demographic model, which shows that a substantial majority of recent aging is a result of the aging of the large baby boom cohort of scientists. However, changes in behavior have also played a significant role, in particular, a decline in the retirement rate of older scientists, induced in part by the elimination of mandatory retirement in universities in 1994. Furthermore, the age distribution of the scientific workforce is still adjusting. Current retirement rates and other determinants of employment in science imply a steady- state mean age 2.3 y higher than the 2008 level of 48.6.


STEM Training and Early Career Outcomes of Female and Male Graduate Students: Evidence from UMETRICS Data Linked to the 2010 Census

Catherine Buffington, Benjamin Cerf, Christina Jones, and Bruce A. Weinberg
American Economic Review May 2016
106(5): 333–338

Women are underrepresented in science and engineering, with the underrepresentation increasing in career stage. We analyze gender differences at critical junctures in the STEM pathway–graduate training and the early career–using UMETRICS administrative data matched to the 2010 Census and W-2s. We find strong gender separation in teams, although the effects of this are ambiguous. While no clear disadvantages exist in training environments, women earn 10% less than men once we include a wide range of controls, most notably field of study. This gap disappears once we control for women’s marital status and presence of children.

Wrapping it up in a person: Examining employment and earnings outcomes for Ph.D. recipients

Nikolas Zolas, Nathan Goldschlag, Ron Jarmin, Paula Stephan, Jason Owen- Smith, Rebecca F. Rosen, Barbara McFadden Allen, Bruce A. Weinberg, Julia I. Lane
Science 11 December 2015
Vol. 350 no. 6266 pp. 1367-1371 
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac5949
Science link:
full text pdf:
supplementary material pdf:

In evaluating research investments, it is important to establish whether the expertise gained by researchers in conducting their projects propagates into the broader economy. For eight universities, it was possible to combine data from the UMETRICS project, which provided administrative records on graduate students supported by funded research, with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The analysis covers 2010–2012 earnings and placement outcomes of people receiving doctorates in 2009–2011. Almost 40% of supported doctorate recipients, both federally and nonfederally funded, entered industry and, when they did, they disproportionately got jobs at large and high-wage establishments in high-tech and professional service industries. Although Ph.D. recipients spread nationally, there was also geographic clustering in employment near the universities that trained and employed the researchers. We also show large differences across fields in placement outcomes.

New linked data on research investments: Scientific workforce, productivity, and public value

Julia I. Lane, Jason Owen-Smith, Rebecca F. Rosen, and Bruce A. Weinberg
Research Policy Volume 44, Issue 9
December 2014, Pages 1659–1671
The New Data Frontier

Longitudinal micro-data derived from transaction level information about wage and vendor payments made by Federal grants on multiple US campuses are being developed in a partnership involving researchers, university administrators, representatives of Federal agencies, and others. This paper describes the UMETRICS data initiative that has been implemented under the auspices of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. The resulting data set reflects an emerging conceptual framework for analyzing the process, products, and impact of research. It grows from and engages the work of a diverse and vibrant community. This paper situates the UMETRICS effort in the context of research evaluation and ongoing data infrastructure efforts in order to highlight its novel and valuable features. Refocusing data construction in this field around individuals, networks, and teams offers dramatic possibilities for data linkage, the evaluation of research investments, and the development of rigorous conceptual and empirical models. Two preliminary analyses of the scientific workforce and network approaches to characterizing scientific teams ground a discussion of future directions and a call for increased community engagement.

Science Funding and Short-Term Economic Activity

Bruce A. Weinberg, Jason Owen-Smith, Rebecca F. Rosen, Lou Schwarz, Barbara McFadden Allen, Roy E. Weiss, Julia Lane
 4 April 2014

Vol. 344 no. 6179 pp. 41-43 
DOI: 10.1126/science.1250055

There is considerable interest among policy-makers in documenting short-term effects of science funding. A multiyear scientific journey that leads to long-term fruits of research, such as a moon landing, is more tangible if there is visible nearer-term activity, such as the presence of astronauts. Yet systematic data on such activities have not heretofore existed. The only source of information for describing the production of most science is surveys that have been called “a rough estimate, frequently based on unexamined assumptions that originated years earlier.


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