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29 February 2024 - 29 February 2024

2:30PM - 4:00PM

Durham University Business School and Online

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Join us for a DEC-hosted seminar with Dr Christos Kolympiris (Warwick Business School)

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Durham University Business School

Cues for Cures: How Scientists Search


The search process in the sciences is subject to a paradox where the high stakes of research necessitate deliberate efforts, yet scientists often prioritize speed and convenience over thoroughness. We delve into this paradox via a natural field experiment and a large-scale field experiment both exploiting rich clickstream data from a popular antibody search platform. First, we examine the interplay between positioning and quality indicators as cues within the scientific search process. Second, we explore the heterogeneous effects of positioning on different types of actors and across different choice architectures. We reveal four main findings. One, scientists choose options, including inputs for their research, that are of the highest quality according to imperfect quality indicators, primarily because those indicators place the options in the most prominent areas in the presentation. Two, the impact of such positioning effects is lower for experts and those who search more deeply. Three, offering a larger number of default options to choose from causally increases the demand for the top options in the presentation. Four, inferior options according to quality indicators are more likely to be chosen if choice architecture places them at optimal positions in different choice sets. We discuss the implications of these findings for scientific search and for technology platforms that support it.

About Dr Christos Kolympiris