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Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement

Sanberg, Paul R. and Gharib, Morteza and Harker, Patrick T. and Kaler, Eric W. and Marchase, Richard B. and Sands, Timothy D. and Arshadi, Nasser and Sarkar, Sudeep (2014) Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111 (18). pp. 6542-6547. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC4020064.

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There is national and international recognition of the importance of innovation, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship for sustained economic revival. With the decline of industrial research laboratories in the United States, research universities are being asked to play a central role in our knowledge-centered economy by the technology transfer of their discoveries, innovations, and inventions. In response to this challenge, innovation ecologies at and around universities are starting to change. However, the change has been slow and limited. The authors believe this can be attributed partially to a lack of change in incentives for the central stakeholder, the faculty member. The authors have taken the position that universities should expand their criteria to treat patents, licensing, and commercialization activity by faculty as an important consideration for merit, tenure, and career advancement, along with publishing, teaching, and service. This position is placed in a historical context with a look at the history of tenure in the United States, patents, and licensing at universities, the current status of university tenure and career advancement processes, and models for the future.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Information CentralArticle
Gharib, Morteza0000-0002-2204-9302
Alternate Title:Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement
Additional Information:© 2014 National Academy of Sciences. Freely available online through the PNAS open access option. Edited by David A. Weitz, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved March 27, 2014 (received for review March 3, 2014). This paper is partly based on a panel at the 2013 Conference of the National Academy of Inventors. The authors thank Judy Lowry, Diana Vergara, Michelle Simha, and Keara Leach for their editorial assistance; Dr. Judy Genshaft at the University of South Florida; and our friends at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Author contributions: P.R.S., M.G., P.T.H., E.W.K., R.B.M., T.D.S., N.A., and S.S. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. This article contains supporting information online at
Subject Keywords:promotion ; intellectual property ; start-ups ; private partnerships
Issue or Number:18
PubMed Central ID:PMC4020064
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140520-165000655
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Official Citation:Paul R. Sanberg, Morteza Gharib, Patrick T. Harker, Eric W. Kaler, Richard B. Marchase, Timothy D. Sands, Nasser Arshadi, and Sudeep Sarkar Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement PNAS 2014 111 (18) 6542-6547; published ahead of print April 28, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1404094111
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:45857
Deposited By: Katherine Johnson
Deposited On:21 May 2014 00:01
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 06:37

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