Paper on scientometrics

Loet Leydesdorff loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET
Thu Jul 25 14:31:54 EDT 2013

Dear Lutz, 


Kuhn (1962, 1969) defined revolutions and paradigms in terms of exemplars and changes in the cultural matrix. In later work (e.g., the Thalheimer lectures), indeed, this is further elaborated into taxonomic changes in the semantics. I agree that it is not just a change in methods or subjects of study.


“Altmetrics” could perhaps serve as an exemplar if it was a lead example for a class of studies. Perhaps, the h-index or JIF have functioned more like exemplars. The cultural matrix, in my opinion, has been more stabilizing than destabilizing during the last ten years (Milojevic & Leydesdorff, 2013). We did not find a crisis (preceding a paradigm change). On the contrary, the specialty structure became more robust.


Staša Milojević & Loet Leydesdorff,  <> Information Metrics (iMetrics): A Research Specialty with a Socio-Cognitive Identity? Scientometrics 95(1) (2013) 141-157; .


The new questions, in my opinion, find their origins outside the discipline, namely, in new technological possibilities (social media) and in acute budget pressures (because of austerity) that are translated by S&T policy-makers into new searches for the legitimation of science. A Kuhnian crisis, however, would be endogenous. 





PS. Perhaps, we live in incommensurable realities? J



Loet Leydesdorff 

Professor, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)

Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam
 <mailto:loet at> loet at ;  <> 
Honorary Professor,  <> SPRU, University of Sussex; Visiting Professor,  <> ISTIC, Beijing;


From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Bornmann, Lutz
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:13 PM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Paper on scientometrics 

Thanks for your emails!


Dear Loet,


As I explain in the Letter, a method change should not be described as a revolution (e.g., the use of percentiles instead of mean-based indicators for normalization of impact). Method changes are part of normal science. Kuhn defines revolutions as taxonomic changes in his later publications. This leads to incommensurabilities between scientists. In the field of scientometrics, measuring scientific impact is no longer solely defined as analysing citations in papers. Today, a scientometrician has to explain which kind of impact is measured and how it is measured. I believe we will see a phase of normal science in scientometrics, where the reliable and valid methods are developed to measure the different kinds of societal impact. Measuring societal impact by using case studies is unsatisfying (as it is mostly done today).



Revolutions do not depend on a specific origin. It is not necessary that the revolution is rooted in science itself. For me, the program of the ISSI 2013 conference was a validation of my claim. There was one session on societal impact measurements and two sessions on altmetrics. I believe that altmetrics will play a significant role in measuring societal impact.






Gesendet von Windows-Mail


Von: Godin, Benoît
Gesendet: ‎Donnerstag‎, ‎25‎. ‎Juli‎ ‎2013 ‎17‎:‎42
An: Bornmann, Lutz





Thanks for sharing this piece with us.


However, I am wondering if scientometrics is really in a revolutionary phase. I see very, very few changes. The revolution you points to is a wish (not necessarily for the worse, by the way), encouraged and supported by governments, and more often than not conducted in public and international agencies or by researchers as consultants to governments. On impacts, the scientometric literature has changed little, not yet.




Benoît Godin


INRS (Montreal, Canada)

tel.: 1 438 396 3242

courriel:  <mailto:benoit.godin at> benoit.godin at

site web:  <>




From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Loet Leydesdorff [loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET]
Sent: July 25, 2013 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Paper on scientometrics 

Dear Lutz: 


Whereas you may be right that new questions are asked of scientometrics, it does not follow that scientometrics has changed fundamentally in its methods. That needs to be proven empirically. Perhaps, the changes are much more gradual (that is, as in normal science). 






From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [ <mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU> mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Bornmann, Lutz
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 2:19 PM
Subject: [SIGMETRICS] Paper on scientometrics


Is there currently a scientific revolution in scientometrics?

The author of this letter to the editor would like to set forth the argument that scientometrics is currently in a phase in which a taxonomic change, and hence a revolution, is taking place. One of the key terms in scientometrics is scientific impact which nowadays is understood to mean not only the impact on science but the impact on every area of society. 


Available at:  <>




Dr. Dr. habil. Lutz Bornmann

Division for Science and Innovation Studies

Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society

Hofgartenstr. 8

80539 Munich

Tel.: +49 89 2108 1265

Mobil: +49 170 9183667

Email:  <mailto:bornmann at> bornmann at

WWW:  <>

ResearcherID:  <>


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