The Politics of Academic Research

Matthew C. Ringgenberg, Chong Shu and Ingrid M. Werner

We develop a novel measure of political slant in research to examine whether political ideology influences the content and use of academic research. Our measure examines the frequency of citations from think tanks with different political ideologies and allows us to examine both the supply and demand for research. We find that research in Economics and Political Science displays a liberal slant, while Finance and Accounting research exhibits a conservative slant, and these differences cannot be accounted for by variations in research topics. We also find that the ideological slant of researchers is positively correlated with that of their Ph.D. institution and research conducted outside universities appears to cater more to the political party of the current President. Finally, political donations data confirms that the ideological slant we measure based on think tank citations aligns with the political values of researchers. Our findings have important implications for the structure of research funding.

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