The current crisis of academia-led research: a threat to the common good? Preliminary data from Europe and the United States

BMC Res Notes. 2020 Jul 8;13(1):327. doi: 10.1186/s13104-020-05128-9.


Objective: This research note aimed to analyze the scientific productivity trends 2015-2019, focusing on the top 30 universities in Europe and United States and on the top 30 private companies-as classified in the SCImago Institutions Ranking. Our hypothesis is that private companies are gaining an increasingly prominent role in the research field, while academia is losing its predominance.

Results: From 2015 to 2019, all universities in Europe and the United States lost positions in the scientific production ranking, while private companies gained positions. These trends seem to be driven mainly by the scientific productivity sub-indicator "Innovation". These data suggest that the role private companies will play in the future will not be limited to support research economically or influence it from "outside". Private companies have taken a path that may lead them to directly control all stages of production/communication of knowledge, including research-a role once bestowed on universities. Our data, although preliminary, seem to suggest that, at present, academia risks losing its predominance in the research field. This scenario deserves attention because of the threats it may pose to the independence of research and its role in supporting human equity and sustainable health for all.

Keywords: Database analysis; Research methodology; Research output; Scientific productivity.