Joint modeling of the association between NIH funding and its three primary outcomes: patents, publications, and citation impact

Fengqing Zhang, Erjia Yan, Xin Niu, Yongjun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the impact of NIH funding on research outcomes using data from 108,803 projects funded by NIH between January 2009 and March 2017. We extend the prior knowledge on this topic by incorporating the correlation structure of multiple research outcomes, as well as a comprehensive list of grant-level features capturing information on funding size, gender composition and funding type. Specifically, we utilize partial least squares regression (PLS) to jointly model all three primary outcomes (publications, patents and citation impact) and identify the effects of grant-level features on research outputs. Our results show that joint modeling of research outcomes via PLS yields a more accurate prediction than analyzing each outcome separately. Additionally, we find that when other grant-level features are held constant, a 2-year-longer project duration would produce a similar improvement in research outputs to that achieved by $1 million in additional funding. Based on this finding, we recommend no-cost extension of funded projects instead of increased funding support to achieve a comparable increase in research outputs. Promoting multi-organizational grants is found to be more effective for increasing patents, whereas encouraging multiple-PI grants is more productive in terms of publications and citation impact. Of the various NIH grant types, program project/center grants (P series) and research training grants (T series) are the two most productive and impactful. Results also suggest that projects with a higher proportion of male PIs tend to produce more research outputs. This finding, however, needs to be interpreted with caution due to the limitation of our data set.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-602
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant Award Number: RE-07-15-0060-15), for the project titled ?Building an entity-based research framework to enhance digital services on knowledge discovery and delivery?.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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