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A Simulation of the Structure of Academic Science

Listed author(s):
  • Nigel Gilbert


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

    Volume (Year): 2 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 1-3

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