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A Simulation of the Structure of Academic Science

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  • Nigel Gilbert

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    Abstract

    The contemporary structure of scientific activity, including the publication of papers in academic journals, citation behaviour, the clustering of research into specialties and so on has been intensively studied over the last fifty years. A number of quantitative relationships between aspects of the system have been observed. This paper reports on a simulation designed to see whether it is possible to reproduce the form of these observed relationships using a small number of simple assumptions. The simulation succeeds in generating a specialty structure with 'areas' of science displaying growth and decline. It also reproduces Lotka's Law concerning the distribution of citations among authors. The simulation suggests that it is possible to generate many of the quantitative features of the present structure of science and that one way of looking at scientific activity is as a system in which scientific papers generate further papers, with authors (scientists) playing a necessary but incidental role. The theoretical implications of these suggestions are briefly explored.

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    File URL: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/2/2/3.html
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Sociological Research Online in its journal Sociological Research Online.

    Volume (Year): 2 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 3

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    Handle: RePEc:sro:srosro:1997-15-1

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    Related research

    Keywords: Lotka's Law; Social Simulation; Sociology of Science; Sociometrics; Specialties;

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    Cited by:
    1. Petra Ahrweiler, 2011. "Modelling Theory Communities in Science," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 14(4), pages 8.
    2. Carayol, Nicolas & Dalle, Jean-Michel, 2007. "Sequential problem choice and the reward system in Open Science," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 167-191, June.
    3. Massimo Riccaboni & Maria Laura Frigotto, 2011. "A Few Special Cases: Scientific Creativity and Network Dynamics in the Field of Rare Diseases," DISA Working Papers 2011/03, Department of Computer and Management Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, revised 24 May 2011.
    4. Petra Ahrweiler & Andreas Pyka & Nigel Gilbert, 2004. "Simulating knowledge dynamics in innovation networks (SKIN)," Discussion Paper Series 267, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
    5. Matthias Meyer, 2011. "Bibliometrics, Stylized Facts and the Way Ahead: How to Build Good Social Simulation Models of Science?," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 14(4), pages 4.
    6. Flavio Lenz-Cesar & Almas Heshmati, 2010. "Agent-based Simulation of Cooperative Innovation," TEMEP Discussion Papers 201052, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Jan 2010.
    7. Andreas Pyka & Nigel Gilbert & Petra Ahrweiler, 2006. "Simulating Knowledge-Generation and -Distribution Processes in Innovation Collaborations and Networks," Discussion Paper Series 287, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
    8. Gilbert, Nigel & Ahrweiler, Petra & Pyka, Andreas, 2007. "Learning in innovation networks: Some simulation experiments," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 378(1), pages 100-109.
    9. Heshmati, Almas & Lenz-Cesar, Flávio, 2013. "Determinants and Policy Simulation of Firms Cooperation in Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 7487, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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