Publication Date

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Gregory J. Feist


citation count, funding source, impact factor, transformative science

Subject Areas



Understanding how the most important scientific articles have been funded can help inform and improve future funding decisions. Importance is here defined as science that, in the metaphor of the tree of knowledge, plays a structurally significant role (e.g., creates new branches of knowledge or transforms existing ones). The structural significance of articles is broken down into two submeasures: citation count and "generativity" (a novel measure defined as being highly cited and also leading to a comparatively large number of other highly cited articles). Generativity is an attempt to provide a quantitative operationalization that should correlate with transformativeness, a concept that has been used as a funding criterion despite not being well defined. This report identifies the most impactful and generative publications within a representative sample of articles indexed in the subject area of psychology in the Thomson ISI Web of Science in the year 2002. For each of these articles, the funding source was determined, and comparisons were made between publications that report their funding sources vs. those that do not, publications funded publicly vs. privately, and publications funded by various agencies. Publications that reported funding sources were found to be more generative than those that did not, and research that was privately funded was found to be more generative than publically funded research. This is consistent with a common assumption, that public funding agencies are less likely to fund transformative research. This research is exploratory, and its intent is to lay the foundation for future empirical investigations into the structure and nature of transformative science.