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How Multidisciplinary Are the Multidisciplinary Journals Science and Nature?

Author

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  • Gregg E A Solomon
  • Stephen Carley
  • Alan L Porter

Abstract

Interest in cross-disciplinary research knowledge interchange runs high. Review processes at funding agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation, consider plans to disseminate research across disciplinary bounds. Publication in the leading multidisciplinary journals, Nature and Science, may signify the epitome of successful interdisciplinary integration of research knowledge and cross-disciplinary dissemination of findings. But how interdisciplinary are they? The journals are multidisciplinary, but do the individual articles themselves draw upon multiple fields of knowledge and does their influence span disciplines? This research compares articles in three fields (Cell Biology, Physical Chemistry, and Cognitive Science) published in a leading disciplinary journal in each field to those published in Nature and Science. We find comparable degrees of interdisciplinary integration and only modest differences in cross-disciplinary diffusion. That said, though the rate of out-of-field diffusion might be comparable, the sheer reach of Nature and Science, indicated by their potent Journal Impact Factors, means that the diffusion of knowledge therein can far exceed that of leading disciplinary journals in some fields (such as Physical Chemistry and Cognitive Science in our samples).

Suggested Citation

  • Gregg E A Solomon & Stephen Carley & Alan L Porter, 2016. "How Multidisciplinary Are the Multidisciplinary Journals Science and Nature?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(4), pages 1-12, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0152637
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152637
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan L Porter & J David Roessner & Alex S Cohen & Marty Perreault, 2006. "Interdisciplinary research: meaning, metrics and nurture," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 187-195, December.
    2. Mario Karlovčec & Dunja Mladenić, 2015. "Interdisciplinarity of scientific fields and its evolution based on graph of project collaboration and co-authoring," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 102(1), pages 433-454, January.
    3. David Roessner & Alan L. Porter & Nancy J. Nersessian & Stephen Carley, 2013. "Validating indicators of interdisciplinarity: linking bibliometric measures to studies of engineering research labs," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 94(2), pages 439-468, February.
    4. Luciano Kay & Nils Newman & Jan Youtie & Alan L. Porter & Ismael Rafols, 2014. "Patent overlay mapping: Visualizing technological distance," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 65(12), pages 2432-2443, December.
    5. Ismael Rafols & Martin Meyer, 2010. "Diversity and network coherence as indicators of interdisciplinarity: case studies in bionanoscience," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 82(2), pages 263-287, February.
    6. Loet Leydesdorff & Ismael Rafols & Chaomei Chen, 2013. "Interactive overlays of journals and the measurement of interdisciplinarity on the basis of aggregated journal–journal citations," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 64(12), pages 2573-2586, December.
    7. Alfredo Yegros-Yegros & Ismael Rafols & Pablo D’Este, 2015. "Does Interdisciplinary Research Lead to Higher Citation Impact? The Different Effect of Proximal and Distal Interdisciplinarity," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(8), pages 1-21, August.
    8. Jon Garner & Alan L. Porter & Nils C. Newman, 2014. "Distance and velocity measures: using citations to determine breadth and speed of research impact," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 100(3), pages 687-703, September.
    9. Ismael Rafols & Loet Leydesdorff, 2009. "Content‐based and algorithmic classifications of journals: Perspectives on the dynamics of scientific communication and indexer effects," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 60(9), pages 1823-1835, September.
    10. Juan D Rogers, 2010. "Citation analysis of nanotechnology at the field level: implications of R&D evaluation," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 281-290, October.
    11. Werner Marx & Lutz Bornmann, 2015. "On the causes of subject-specific citation rates in Web of Science," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 102(2), pages 1823-1827, February.
    12. Alan L. Porter & Ismael Rafols, 2009. "Is science becoming more interdisciplinary? Measuring and mapping six research fields over time," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 81(3), pages 719-745, December.
    13. Ilya V. Ponomarev & Brian K. Lawton & Duane E. Williams & Joshua D. Schnell, 2014. "Breakthrough paper indicator 2.0: can geographical diversity and interdisciplinarity improve the accuracy of outstanding papers prediction?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 100(3), pages 755-765, September.
    14. Alan L Porter & David J Roessner & Anne E Heberger, 2008. "How interdisciplinary is a given body of research?," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 273-282, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Houcemeddine Turki & Mohamed Ali Hadj Taieb & Mohamed Ben Aouicha & Ajith Abraham, 2020. "Nature or Science: what Google Trends says," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(2), pages 1367-1385, August.
    2. Houcemeddine Turki & Mohamed Ali Hadj Taieb & Mohamed Ben Aouicha & Ajith Abraham, 0. "Nature or Science: what Google Trends says," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-19.
    3. Alessandro Pluchino & Giulio Burgio & Andrea Rapisarda & Alessio Emanuele Biondo & Alfredo Pulvirenti & Alfredo Ferro & Toni Giorgino, 2019. "Exploring the role of interdisciplinarity in physics: Success, talent and luck," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(6), pages 1-15, June.
    4. Stephen F. Carley & Seokbeom Kwon & Alan L. Porter & Jan L. Youtie, 2019. "The relationship between forward and backward diversity in CORE datasets," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 120(3), pages 961-974, September.

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