SIGMETRICS Digest - 20 Feb 2004 to 22 Feb 2004 (#2004-27)

David Watkins David.Watkins at SOLENT.AC.UK
Mon Feb 23 03:40:12 EST 2004

Size of specialisms.

The key point is the one that Steve makes in the tail - what is a
specialism and can we bound it?

3 guesses and a favoured technique:

1. Natural science specialisms are bigger than social science are bigger
than humanities.
2. The bigger the infrastructure costs, the easier it is to bound the
3. Aggregation is in the eye of the beholder. Those inside the field always
see a finer grain than those outside
4. Consequently, the best place to start is with the data rather than with
a clear idea of 'the field' and let citer relationships determine the
bounds. (Particularly using ACA). Aggregation can then follow depending on
the beholder's need (intellectual understanding, policy formulation,
grantsmanship, etc.)

David Watkins

Professor David Watkins
Postgraduate Research Centre
Southampton Business School
East Park Terrace
Southampton SO14 0RH

David.Watkins at
 023 80 319610 (Tel)
+44 23 80 31 96 10 (Tel)

02380 33 26 27 (fax)
+44 23 80 33 26 27 (fax)

  1. Question: studies on the size of scientific specialties?


Date:    Sun, 22 Feb 2004 13:57:47 -0500
From:    "Steven A. Morris" <samorri at OKSTATE.EDU>
Subject: Question: studies on the size of scientific specialties?

Does anyone out there know of any studies that try to measure the size of
"scientific specialties" in terms of either the number of members or the
number of papers?    Kuhn says something like "about 100 members, sometimes
considerably less".  Price, in "Big Science, Little Science", implies that
once a specialty gets to 100 members or so, it becomes untenable as a
community and undergoes fission into smaller communities.  Are there any
studies out there to support this?   I think Crane's book "Invisble
Colleges" implies about the same size range, without discussing size
directly.  Actually, I'm not sure there is a decent definition of
specialty" out there either, but I'm thinking in terms of a core group that
is focussed on a single narrow problem, that reads each other's papers and
whose members attend the came conferences.


S. Morris

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