Not all scientists pay to be scientists: PhDs' preferences for publishing in industrial employment

Henry Sauermann, Michael Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is often assumed that academically trained scientists have a strong taste for science and are willing to "pay" for the ability to openly disclose their research results. However, little is known regarding how scientists considering jobs in industrial R&D make trade-offs between positions that allow publishing on the one hand and positions that do not allow publishing but offer higher pay on the other. Using data on over 1900 science and engineering PhD candidates about to enter the job market, we find that while some are unwilling to give up publishing at virtually any price, over one third of those most likely to seek positions in industrial research are willing to forego publishing for free. We develop a simple model of the "price" scientists assign to publishing in firms and explore potential sources of heterogeneity empirically. We find that the price of publishing increases with individuals' preferences for various benefits from publishing such as peer recognition and contributing to society, but it decreases with their preference for money. Scientists who believe themselves to be of high ability and who train at top tier institutions have a higher price of publishing. Yet, they are more expensive to hire (not less) even if publishing is allowed. We discuss implications for research on the economics of science and on compensating differentials, for managers seeking to attract and retain academically trained personnel, and for firms considering their participation in open science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Compensating differentials
  • Industrial research
  • Labor markets
  • Open science
  • Preferences
  • Publishing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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