The Self-Similar Science System

Dr. J. Sylvan Katz j.s.katz at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Fri Jul 2 10:16:15 EDT 1999

Title: The self-similar science system
JOURNAL: Research Policy 28 (1999) 501-517
Document type: Article          Language: English       Cited References: 31


A system with a self-similar property is scale-independent and statistically
exhibits that property at all levels of observation. In addition, a power law
describes the distribution of the scale-independent property. Many investigators
have observed some social activities and structures, particularly in the science
system, that are best described by a power law distribution. However, unlike
physical power laws that are used in the design of complex technical systems,
social power laws are not used to develop social policy. Using the science
system as a model social system and peer-reviewed publications and citations to
these papers as the data source we will demonstrate the existence of two power
law distributions that are then used to predict the existence of three
additional power laws. In fact, it will be shown that in four UK sectoral, six
OECD national, a regional and the world science systems the Matthew effect can
be described by a power law relationship between publishing size (papers) and
recognition (citations). The exponent of this power law is 1.27± 0.03, it is
constant over time and relatively independent of system size and nationality.
The policy implications of these robust self-similar social properties as well
as the need to develop scale-independent policy are discussed.

Keywords: Self-Similar; Power Law: Scale-independent

Dr. J. Sylvan Katz
Senior Research Fellow
Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
Brighton, E. Sussex, UK, BN1 9RF
Tel: (01273) 877152 Fax: (01273)685865

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list