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The Knowledge Investment Curve

Every scientist knows that science advances only if knowledge is shared. Mathematically, this statement implies that the advance of science is a function of both the sharing of research results, as well as doing the original research. In principle, therefore, decision makers face the problem of deciding how much to spend on original research and how much to spend on sharing the knowledge that comes out of research.

Consider the accompanying graph with the x-axis being the fraction of research resources expended on spreading knowledge. The scale would range from 0% to 100%. The y-axis is the pace of scientific discovery. One can imagine a curve plotting the pace of discovery as a function of the fraction of resources expended on sharing knowledge.

When the fraction of resources is 0%, the pace of science advance is zero, as nothing is shared. When the fraction of resources is 100%, the pace of advance is also zero, as nothing is spent on the research itself. In between these endpoints, the plot will have a maximum. The plot is the Knowledge Investment Curve.

While we show a conceptualization of the Knowledge Investment Curve, we know very little about the actual form of this curve, or even how much is currently invested in sharing.  

Most knowledge sharing activities are not funded directly as budget items. These include writing an estimated one million research papers and reports a year worldwide, as well as finding and reading them. It includes preparing for and participating in conferences, as well as writing and reading emails, blogs, etc. It also includes training postdocs and Ph.D. students, plus an untold number of colleague to colleague...

Related Topics: knowledge, Web, world wide web, (WWS)