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In this study, we examine and validate the use of existing text mining techniques (based on the vector space model and latent semantic indexing) to detect similarities between patent documents and scientific publications. Clearly, experts involved in domain studies would benefit from techniques that allow similarity to be detected—and hence facilitate mapping, categorization and classification efforts. In addition, given current debates on the relevance and appropriateness of academic patenting, the ability to assess content-relatedness between sets of documents—in this case, patents and publications—might become relevant and useful. We list several options available to arrive at content based similarity measures. Different options of a vector space model and latent semantic indexing approach have been selected and applied to the publications and patents of a sample of academic inventors (n = 6). We also validated the outcomes by using independently obtained validation scores of human raters. While we conclude that text mining techniques can be valuable for detecting similarities between patents and publications, our findings also indicate that the various options available to arrive at similarity measures vary considerably in terms of accuracy: some generally accepted text mining options, like dimensionality reduction and LSA, do not yield the best results when working with smaller document sets. Implications and directions for further research are discussed.

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