Sleeping beauties cited in patents: Is there also a dormitory of inventions?
A ‘Sleeping Beauty in Science’ is a publication that goes unnoticed (‘sleeps’) for a long time and then, almost suddenly, attracts a lot of attention (‘is awakened by a prince’). In our foregoing study we found that roughly half of the Sleeping Beauties are application-oriented and thus are potential Sleeping Innovations. In this paper we investigate a new topic: Sleeping Beauties that are cited in patents. In this way we explore the existence of a dormitory of inventions. To our knowledge this is the first study of this kind. We investigate the time lag between publication of the Sleeping Beauty and the first citation by a patent. We find that patent citation may occur before or after the awakening and that the depth of the sleep, i.e., citation rate during the sleeping period, is no predictor for later scientific or technological impact of the Sleeping Beauty. A surprising finding is that Sleeping Beauties are significantly more cited in patents than ‘normal’ papers. Inventor–author self-citations relations occur only in a small minority of the Sleeping Beauties that are cited in patents, but other types of inventor–author links occur more frequently. We develop an approach in different steps to explore the cognitive environment of Sleeping Beauties cited in patents. First, we analyze whether they deal with new topics by measuring the time-dependent evolution in the entire scientific literature of the number of papers related to both the precisely defined topics as well as the broader research theme of the Sleeping Beauty during and after the sleeping time. Second, we focus on the awakening by analyzing the first group of papers that cites the Sleeping Beauty. Third, we create concept maps of the topic-related and the citing papers for a time period immediately following the awakening and for the most recent period. Finally, we make an extensive assessment of the cited and citing relations of the Sleeping Beauty. We find that tunable co-citation analysis is a powerful tool to discover the prince(s) and other important application-oriented work directly related to the Sleeping Beauty, for instance papers written by authors who cite Sleeping Beauties in both the patents of which they are the inventors, as well as in their scientific papers.