Monday, March 15, 2010

Does March Madness Undermine University Research?

Professor Charles Clotfelter, from Duke's Sanford School Public Policy, has been studying the effects of NCAA March Madness on research activity.  He focused on levels of JSTOR research activity on Mondays through Wednesdays, from February through April each year.  He found that, in the weeks leading up to Selection Sunday, research on JSTOR inched up about 5% each week.  In the week following Selection Sunday, however, JSTOR use plunged 6%.  Worse yet, at schools with teams in the tourney who won toss-up games, research tumbled downward 14% over the course of the competition.  From a well-timed Duke press release about the study:

"By all appearances, fans of losing teams shook off the disappointment and returned to work in greater numbers or with greater diligence, while the fans of winning teams continued to follow their team into the next round,” [Clotfelter] said. “Such an effect would imply an ironic sort of ‘winner’s curse,’ where students and researchers at universities whose teams win unexpectedly do less work than those whose favorite teams are also-rans."

-- Dan Filler (cross-posted at The Faculty Lounge, where comments are open)

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