Most people will agree that 2014 was not a great year for Bitcoin’s price, but according to financial author and researcher Brett Scott, it really was a great year for academic interest in the cryptocurrency.
According to Scott, who spent the last week of last year piecing together a database containing information about all of the academic Bitcoin research published since Satoshi Nakamoto’s seminal paper in 2008, the number of published papers rose by more than threefold from 61 in 2013 to 205 in 2014. This is appears to show an acceleration in the rate of increase since 2011: 8 papers were published in 2011, followed by 21 in 2012. The figures include all “Academic, and quasi-academic, research papers, journal articles and theses related to Bitcoin”.
In addition to crunching the numbers, Scott also provides his own take on the quality of the research, grading it B+ overall, whilst at the same time noting that there is a “fair amount of crap research out there”.
Most the database entries come from technical research relating to cryptography, computer science or network security, such as a recent study into DDoS attacks by malicious mining pools. The social sciences, which may provide interesting insight into who is using Bitcoin, where it is being used, what it is being used for, and what impact this is having, seem to be disappointingly under-represented in terms of research so far. There may be reasons for this, however, as this kind of research often takes years to complete and could only have been started after the network had started to grow out from its humble origins. There is every reason to think, therefore, that academic bitcoin research will continue to flourish in 2015 and beyond, offering us many more fascinating insights and illuminating many more interesting opportunities.