Inventor team size as a predictor of the future citation impact of patents

Anthony Breitzman, Patrick Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Forward citations are widely recognized as a useful measure of the impact of patents upon subsequent technological developments. However, an inherent characteristic of forward citations is that they take time to accumulate. This makes them valuable for retrospective impact evaluations, but less helpful for prospective forecasting exercises. To overcome this, it would be desirable to have indicators that forecast future citations at the time a patent is issued. In this paper, we outline one such indicator, based on the size of the inventor teams associated with patents. We demonstrate that, on average, patents with eight or more co-inventors are cited significantly more frequently in their first 5 years than peer patents with fewer inventors. This result holds true across technologies, assignee type, citation source (examiner versus applicant), and after self-citations are accounted for. We hypothesize that inventor team size may be a reflection of the amount of resources committed by an organization to a given innovation, with more researchers attached to innovations regarded as having particular promise or value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-647
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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