Paper on scientometrics

David Wojick dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US
Sun Jul 28 14:29:00 EDT 2013

Dear Loet,

Yes we often know a revolution when we see one, but that is not the same as 
having an operational definition that lets us individuate them. We cannot 
say for example how many revolutions occurred in discipline d during period 
t. It is very hard to do meaningful empirical analyses of things we cannot 
even count. Thus I think talk of prediction assumes a level of 
understanding that we do not have. Understand is the goal in my view.


At 01:15 PM 7/28/2013, you wrote:
>Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe): 
>Dear David and colleagues,
>One basic problem is that we do not have an agreed upon operational 
>definition of revolution. So if we are measuring different things under 
>the same name we may get differing results that do not actually disagree.
>Although we don’t have such a definition, it is not so difficult to point 
>ex post to instances that have provided breakthroughs and led to the 
>development of new specialties. For example, “oncogene” in 1988, 
>“interference RNA” in 1998; super-conductivity in 1987(?) at higher 
>temperatures, etc.
>It seems to me that there are two main questions that should not be confused:
>1. is it possible to predict such breakthroughs in terms of a specific set 
>of conditions? The notion of a void (as Chaomei named it) seems relevant 
>here: structural holes; synergies among redundant research programs, etc.
>2. ex post: early warning indicators, upscaling conditions, etc. For 
>example, in the case of RNA-interference we hypothesized that first 
>preferential attachment is with the initial inventors, but then the system 
>globalizes and on preferentially attaches with world centers of excellence 
>(in Boston, London or Seoul). (Leydesdorff & Rafols, 2011).
>In my opinion, the problem is that one can study these cases, derive 
>hypotheses, but then during the upscaling one fails to develop predictors 
>from them. For example, we found an entropy measure for new developments 
>in (Leydesdorff et al., 1994), but it did not work for the prediction at 
>the level of the file of aggregated journal-journal citations. Ron 
>Kostoff’s tomography was another idea that eventually did not lead us to 
>the prediction of emerging fields (Leydesdorff, 2002).
>I mean to say that if one finds for example, that an important new 
>development leads to a new citation structure, is it then also possible to 
>scan the database for such structures and in order to find new developments?
>·        Loet Leydesdorff, Susan E. Cozzens, and Peter Van den Besselaar, 
>Tracking Areas of Strategic Importance using Scientometric Journal 
>Mappings, Research Policy 23 (1994) 217-229.
>·        Loet Leydesdorff, 
><>Indicators of Structural Change 
>in the Dynamics of Science: Entropy Statistics of the 
><>SCI Journal Citation Reports, 
>Scientometrics 53(1) (2002) 131-159.
>·        Loet Leydesdorff & Ismael Rafols, 
><>How do emerging technologies 
>conquer the world? An exploration of patterns of diffusion and network 
>formation, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and 
>Technology 62(5) (2011) 846-860.
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