Research Funding’s ‘Endorsement Effect’ on Scientific Boundary Work and Research Production: Government Legitimization of Alternative Medicine

Author: Ryan Whalen

Published on Science and Public Policy, p. 1-10, April 24, 2018

Abstract: This article demonstrates how science and technology policy can have an ‘endorsement effect’ that legitimizes and increases the salience of scientific research areas. The validation and increased attention provided by state funding policies can support the discursive boundary work of interested parties as they seek to situate research fields within mainstream science. Increased validity and attention can subsequently lead to increased research activity, above and beyond that funded by the state. This article demonstrates the endorsement effect by examining how the founding of the NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine affected both the discourse surrounding the legitimacy of alternative medicine, and the production of alternative medicine-related patents. The existence of this endorsement effect suggests that policymakers should consider both the direct effects that innovation policy might have on researchers’ incentives as well as the endorsement effects it can have on the research system.