Rafols I, Meyer M, " How cross-disciplinary is bionanotechnology? Explorations in the specialty of molecular motors" SCIENTOMETRICS 70 (3). MAR 2007. p.633-650 SPRINGER, Dordrecht

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Mar 23 16:31:54 EDT 2007

E-mail Addresses: i.rafols at sussex.ac.uk 

TITLE:          How cross-disciplinary is bionanotechnology? Explorations
                in the specialty of molecular motors (Article, English)
AUTHOR:         Rafols, I; Meyer, M
SOURCE:         SCIENTOMETRICS 70 (3). MAR 2007. p.633-650 SPRINGER,

                FIELDS; POLICY

ABSTRACT:       Nanotechnology has been presented in the policy discourse
as an intrinsically interdisciplinary field, requiring collaborations among 
researchers with different backgrounds, and specific funding schemes 
supporting knowledge-integration activities. Early bibliometric studies 
supported this interdisciplinary vision (MEYER & PERSSON, 1998), but recent 
results suggest that nanotechnology is (yet) a mixed bag with various mono-
disciplinary subfields (SCHUMMER, 2004). We have reexamined the issue at 
the research project level, carrying out five case studies in molecular 
motors, a specialty of bionanotechnology. Relying both in data from 
interviews and bibliometric indicators, we have developed a 
multidimensional analysis (SANZ-MENENDEZ et al., 2001) in order to explore 
the extent and types of cross-disciplinary practices in each project. We 
have found that there is a consistent high degree of cross- disciplinarity 
in the cognitive practices of research (i.e., use of references and 
instrumentalities) but a more erratic and narrower degree in the social 
dimensions (i.e., affiliation and researchers' background).
This suggests that cross-disciplinarity is an eminently epistemic 
characteristic and that bibliometric indicators based on citations and 
references capture more accurately the generation of cross-disciplinary 
knowledge than approaches tracking co-authors' disciplinary affiliations.
In the light of these findings we raise the question whether policies 
focusing on formal collaborations between laboratories are the most 
appropriate to facilitate cross-disciplinary knowledge acquisition and 

AUTHOR ADDRESS: I Rafols, Univ Sussex, SPRU, Freeman Ctr, Brighton BN1 9QE,
                E Sussex, England

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