- in reversed chronological order
Cultural Ties in Knowledge Production
with Xiaoqin Yan, Tom Leppard, and Andrew P. Davis
[Preprint] Invited for submission to Poetics
Presented at AS(ociology)A 2023 Science Knowledge and Technology section (by coauthor); HBS D^3 research workshop 2023 Slides
TL; DR: People study "actual social ties" in knowledge production, for instance, citation, faculty placement, and collaboration. This work introduces "cultural ties" -- why do schools co-use cultural symbols (i.e., doing similar research, sharing a specific research focus (symbol), and forming a school of thought), linked by inferred ties? Sociology is a good empirical case to answer this question. We propose a pipeline to measure cultural ties across schools: (1) We construct a unique pairwise dataset detailing schools' dyadic relationships (e.g., geographical co-residence). (2) We propose NLP methods to measure the strength and gatekeepers of cultural ties between schools using their produced dissertations. We then reveal two school clusters with their research trajectories -- one represents a more explicit focus on current social problems (e.g., racial inequality) and the other goes beyond them to include more theoretical and esoteric topics (e.g., historical sociology). (3) Using recent statistical advancements we well resolve the clustering issues for dyadic school data and discern key determinants that shape cultural convergence and distinction, including status, location, and institutional classification (e.g., landgrant).
"Bad" Citing Reduces the Reproduction of Inequality in Science
Honglin Bao and Misha Teplistkiy
[Paper] Nature Communications
Presented at Computational Organization Modeling Society PhD Brown Bags 2023; HBS D^3 research workshop 2022 Slides
TL; DR: People discourage rhetorical citing (e.g., cite to support authors' own claims), and believe the community would be better if all citing came from the substantive type (cite papers because of substantive inspiration). But there is no policy treatment/real-world community that allows us to causally test this widely-held belief. We use agent-based models to construct a counterfactual world by turning the rhetorical citing off, and compare it with the realistic world (turning the rhetorical on). We find rhetorical citing actually benefits academic community health and makes novel ideas more easily diffuse. The explanation for the effect is that the quality of creative products, like papers, is hard to discern and people thus use heuristics to judge them. In a world with substantive citing only, citations and attention would be concentrated among the highest-status papers, and that concentration would reproduce via the feedback loop of "the-rich-getting-richer". However, rhetorical citing weakens the social-reinforcement loop by redistributing focus from the few elite-quality papers to those "mid-quality" ones that are rhetorically useful in a person-specific manner. Mid-quality pieces benefit more because low-quality works lack persuasiveness.