I heard someone claim there have been more scientific discoveries outside of academia, in industry, the past 50 years than in academia. Is this true? Has anyone tried to quantify this?

closed as off-topic by Pieter Geerkens, Kobunite, Lennart Regebro, DVK, Sardathrion - Reinstate Monica Nov 25 '13 at 11:02

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Requests for trivia or basic historical facts are off-topic if they can be easily answered by looking up the relevant topic on Wikipedia. We're trying to complement common historical references, not duplicate them." – Pieter Geerkens, Kobunite, Sardathrion - Reinstate Monica
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


There are branches in philosophy and sociology of science that talk about Mode 1 vs. Mode 2 of scientific production.

Mode 1 is the "classic" form of research, perfomed mostly in academia and driven by a linear improve-the-state-of-knowledge mentality that science has defined as its ethos for the last couple of centuries. Wikipedia defines it as:

knowledge production which is driven by the sake of scientific knowledge alone (fundamental research) and which is not bothered by the applicability of its findings

However, in the past decades, so-called Mode 2 science has risen to the forefront. Again, from Wikipedia, quoting Camille Limoges:

We now speak of 'context-driven' research, meaning 'research carried out in a context of application, arising from the very work of problem solving and not governed by the paradigms of traditional disciplines of knowledge.

So we're talking about a mode of research that's not focused on primary research, but on solving real-world (i.e. industry) problems, by interdisciplinary teams formed of industry and academia, where industry's needs set the tone (and provide the funding). So it's not that academia makes no discoveries, but they're not necessarily found in academic laboratories.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.