Research Remix

February 23, 2011

Rough estimate of Papers per Dollar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heather Piwowar @ 2:22 pm

A project I’m working on needed a back-of-the-envelope estimate for the average number of papers produced per grant-funding-dollar.  This average obviously varies by discipline and grant type and country, and depends on whether the grant funds are direct funding or total etc…. but I just wanted an order of magnitude estimate and so was willing to put up with some very disparate information sources within North America.

To my surprise, the answers were quite similar across a wide variety of sources.  None of the studies calculated a #papers/$funding number explicitly, but they gave #papers and $funding estimates so I could do the division.  The consensus:  between 0.6 and 5 published papers per $100k in funding.

Here are my rough notes, in case anyone else wants to check these numbers for their own purposes.


Boyack, K., & Borner, K. (2003). Indicator-assisted evaluation and funding of research: Visualizing the influence of grants on the number and citation counts of research papers Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54 (5), 447-461 DOI: 10.1002/asi.10230

Funding by NIA, grants 1993-1997

5 per $100k

(434 pubs at all institutions/23 institutions)/3.53 avg funding per institution = 5.0991501416430598


Druss, B., & Marcus, S. (2005). Tracking publication outcomes of National Institutes of Health grants The American Journal of Medicine, 118 (6), 658-663 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.02.015

NIH grants

3.2 papers per $100k in annual funding

.032 per $1k
7.58 papers per grant / 239.82600 in annual funding = 0.0316062479


Gaughan, M., & Bozeman, B. (2002). Using curriculum vitae to compare some impacts of NSF research grants with research center funding Research Evaluation, 11 (1), 17-26 DOI: 10.3152/147154402781776952

CVs of researchers in NSF centers in about 2000?

0.9 pubs/year/$100k in funding

In [28]: 3.78/437 * 100

Out[28]: 0.86498855835240274


Hendrix, D. (2008). An analysis of bibliometric indicators, National Institutes of Health funding, and faculty size at Association of American Medical Colleges medical schools, 1997–2007 Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA, 96 (4), 324-334 DOI: 10.3163/1536-5050.96.4.007

National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funding data for Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) member schools during 1997 to 2007

1.5 papers per $100k

In [29]: 9524/624039.284
Out[29]: 0.01526185970048642

In [30]: 9524/624039.284*100
Out[30]: 1.526185970048642


Leydesdorff L, Wagner C. Research Funding and Research Output: A Bibliometric Contribution to the US Federal Research Roadmap. 2009:1-16.

Higher-Education Expenditure for R&D (HERD) in the OECD statistics for all of the USA, 2007

0.57 publications per $100k
1.0/1.75 = 0.57


Larivière, V., Macaluso, B., Archambault, E., & Gingras, Y. (2010). Which scientific elites? On the concentration of research funds, publications and citations Research Evaluation, 19 (1), 45-53 DOI: 10.3152/095820210X492495

Canada all funded research in Quebec’s universities 1999–2006

0.92 per $100k

In [36]: 62026/6760445.931*100
Out[36]: 0.91748385584418335

2 Comments

  1. John Wilbanks points out the inverse stats are worth noting too:

    RT @wilbanks Average cost of scientific paper between $20K and $166K. With this kind of ROI, who needs enemies?

    Comment by Heather Piwowar — February 23, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  2. Interesting batch of data! About five years ago, I heard the cost of $250,000 per scientific paper from a well credentialed science librarian. As I recall, this factored in nongrant expenses as well — presumably some of it as overhead, training etc. I wish I could put my hands on the primary source for this number. Thanks for the discussion.

    Comment by Hakon Heimer — May 3, 2011 @ 11:27 am


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