The operationalization of a journal set for the delineation of an interdisciplinary specialty: the case of Communication Studies

David E. Wojick dwojick at HUGHES.NET
Tue Nov 25 11:26:10 EST 2008

Dear Loet,

In all this research is a distinction made between true 
interdisciplinary work versus the migration of ideas? The two might 
have similar citation patterns, which would confound the analysis.

The difficulty is that here is a significant ongoing migration of 
ideas from discipline to discipline. The topology is a 
many-many-many....mapping,  along the lines of my description of 
technology in "Mapping Technology Chaos:" That is, there is both 
divergence and convergence of migration paths. In particular, ideas 
sometimes converge form several disciplines to create a new 

A classic example is the migration of the concept of the "quantum of 
energy" from heat (Planck) to light (Einstein) to electrons (Bohr), 
creating the new discipline of atomic physics. There is no 
interdisciplinary research here, but there is a well defined 
discipline to discipline citation trail.


operationalization of a journal set for the delineation of an 
interdisciplinary specialty:
<>the case of 
Communication Studies

A journal set in an interdisciplinary and developing area can be 
determined by including the journals classified under the most 
relevant ISI Subject Categories into a journal-journal citation 
matrix. Despite the fuzzy character of borders, factor analysis of 
the citation patterns enables us to delineate the specific set by 
discarding the noise. This technique is illustrated using 
communication studies as a hybrid development between political 
science and social psychology. The development is visualized using 
animations which support the claim that a specific journal set in 
communication studies is developing, notably in the “being cited” 
patterns. The resulting set of approximately 25 journals in 
communication studies is much smaller and more focused than the 45 
journals classified by the ISI Subject Categories as “Communication.”

Loet Leydesdorff
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), University of 
Amsterdam, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX  Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 
<mailto:loet at>loet at; 

Carole Probst
Faculty of Communication Sciences, Università della Svizzera 
italiana, Switzerland; 
<mailto:carole.probst at>carole.probst at

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