ABS: Wormell, Bibliomeetric Analysis of the Welfare State as a Research Phenomenon, Parts 1 and 2

Gretchen Whitney gwhitney at UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU
Wed Sep 27 17:34:08 EDT 2000

From: Wormell Irene <IW at db.dk>

I. Wormell, "Bibliometric Analysis of the Welfare State as a Research
Phenomenon". Scientometrics, 47(2000)2, pp.203-236 .

The article is reporting the results  of the first part of an  extensive
informetric analysis of the Welfare topic, carried out in 1998-99. The aim
was to analyse  the structure of the  literature of international Welfare
research, to provide a detailed picture of its basic theoretical and
empirical concepts and the mutual relations existing between these concepts.

The approach is novel in that  through the application of quantitative (i.e.
bibliometric) techniques it tries to reduce subjectivity in  domain analysis
and in the mapping of the developments and segmentation  in special topical
The analysis used the technique of co-ordinated online searches in a cluster
of international bibliographic databases in DIALOG. The relevant theoretical
and empirical concepts  have been structured in 13 sub-topics which have
been in detail analysed, in three time intervals.

Welfare State
Social indicators
Patriarchal State
Altruism (solidarity)
Social insurance, safety net
Unemployment benefit
Keynesian economics
Public economy
Communitarism, pluralism, corporatism
Public service delivery (health, education, children, elderly people)
Public choice (privatization, licitation, evaluation, innovation in public

By measuring trends and developments in the number of publications, term
occurrences, similarity between the subject terms and formation of clusters
among  the subject segments, the analysis provides a comprehensive review of
such a  complex research field as the Welfare State is. The study, which
primary aim is to  improve  the  methodology of quantitative analysis in the
so called "soft" sciences,  will increase the interest among social
scientists, scholars of the humanities  and library and information science
to use databases as analytical tools  and to apply the modern text mining
techniques for the extraction of knowledge from bibliographic data.

I. Wormell, "Critical Aspects of the Danish Welfare State -As Revealed by
Issue Tracking". Scientometrics, 47(20002, pp.237-250.

This article constitutes the second part of the project entitled
"Informetric Analysis of the Welfare Topic".
The study applied and developed the methodology of issue tracking for
"informetric studies" in the area of social sciences where metric techniques
have been little used so far. Issue tracking and monitoring of literature
are known methodologies in the area of science and technology, but due to
the differences in the scientific communication, quantitative analysis in
the "soft" sciences requires other techniques and research attitudes.  It
was aimed to explore these differences and improve the existing
methodologies by applying them to another type of scientific communication -
where the topics and their subject representations are often ambiguous,
therefore, the accurate identification, selection and harmonisation of
search terms are cornerstones of the analysis.

The project aims to introduce  and test the possibilities and limits of
quantitative methods to unearth important past, current and future
conditions related to the development of the Welfare concept in Denmark.
This article is focusing on the methodology and does not attempt to provide
explanations and interpretations of the topics  analysed. In the project
there have been involved information scientists and a panel of domain
experts and other specialists. However, the dialogues and consultations with
the expert panel ensure the inclusion of certain qualitative elements into
the study.

Using the issue tracking methodology the 13 selected topics (see above) were
analysed in periods accross various types of the Danish national databases
covering information about the research, implementation, press and
legislation aspects.
This is a useful methodology for following how a concept (originating from
an innovation or a new idea) is moving through the path of various
publication forms e.g.,

Theoretical research    applied research        techniques and engineering
        popular press and mass media    legislation

To provide a realistic and structured form for the study, the expert panel
suggested to use the following three main points on the present criticism of
the "Welfare State":

                        Economic aspects,  Can we afford it?
                        Legitimacy,  Does the people believe in it and how
much do they support it?
                        Functionality,  How does it work?

Thus, the paper trace the pattern of debate about the three main critical
issues of the modern Welfare State in Denmark: economic aspects, legitimacy
and functionality. The approach taken is novel in that it implements and
tests issue tracking in this area of social sciences, and  tries to reduce
subjectivity in the analysis of trends influencing social policy and public
opinion. The study aims to show how the emerging data and text mining
techniques can be applied to integrate downloaded bibliographic data with
other types of information in a strategic mix.

In co-operation with the Institute for Future Studies, Denmark/Sweden, we
are planning to continue the analyses  of  the information flow between
research , media and the political system in order  to show the gaps between
the politicians´ and the population´s  opinion about the Welfare State in
Denmark. This will be an extensive project where the informetric analyses,
along with  several other methods, will be used  for mapping the differences
in the opinion of the Danish people  and the state.

The final report is published in three volumes:

Irene Wormell, Informetric Analysis of the Welfare State as a Research
Phenomenon.Centre for Informetric Studies, Copenhagen, 1999.
(CIS Report 8).Vol. I. General description and the results of the project.
77 p.
Vol. II. Methodology.  28 p.
Vol III. Resumé. 28 p.

Centre for Informetric Studies,
Royal School of Library and Information Science,  Birketinget 6, DK-2300
Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tel: +45 32 58 60 66;  Fax:: +45 32 84 02 01

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