Through innovation and research, OSTI speeds the diffusion of scientific knowledge to accelerate the advancement of science. One way OSTI has approached this challenge is through conducting applied research using epidemiological models. OSTI assembled a diffusion research team of epidemiological modelers and science diffusion experts to explore a number of case studies of science knowledge diffusion.
Preliminary results indicate (1) that the spread of ideas can be measured and modeled, and (2) that increasing the contact rate between scientists has an impact on the speed the diffusion of scientific knowledge.
These findings could have broad implications for increasing the pace of discovery, predicting viability for scientific fields, evaluating long-term funding opportunities, and exploring and expanding information diffusion research. The graph below, derived by OSTI's diffusion research team from previous research as described in "The Power of a Good Idea: quantitative modeling of the spread of ideas from epidemiological models (362-KB PDF), indicates that increasing contact rates between authors of research papers two-fold, ten-fold and 30-fold would reduce "discovery times" measured in years.
Though this survey used only a small sample of authors of research papers, it gave impetus to undertake an applied research program to explore actual case studies of science knowledge diffusion based on epidemiological models.