Emergence of Scientific Disciplines

Fil Menczer fil at INDIANA.EDU
Tue Jan 15 16:17:39 EST 2013

Apologies for duplication. We thought this paper, which appeared today
in Nature Sci. Rep., might be of interest:

Social Dynamics of Science
by Xiaoling Sun et al.
Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1069 doi:10.1038/srep01069

The birth and decline of disciplines are critical to science and
society. How do scientific disciplines emerge? No quantitative model
to date allows us to validate competing theories on the different
roles of endogenous processes, such as social collaborations, and
exogenous events, such as scientific discoveries. Here we propose an
agent-based model in which the evolution of disciplines is guided
mainly by social interactions among agents representing scientists.
Disciplines emerge from splitting and merging of social communities in
a collaboration network. We find that this social model can account
for a number of stylized facts about the relationships between
disciplines, scholars, and publications. These results provide strong
quantitative support for the key role of social interactions in
shaping the dynamics of science. While several “science of science”
theories exist, this is the first account for the emergence of
disciplines that is validated on the basis of empirical data.


Filippo Menczer
Professor of Informatics and Computer Science
Director, Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research
Indiana University, Bloomington

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