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A Quantitative Measure to Compare the Disciplinary Profiles of Research Systems and Their Evolution Over Time


  • Irene Bongioanni

    () (Department of Physics, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza")

  • Cinzia Daraio

    () (Department of Computer, Control and Management Engineering, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza")

  • Giancarlo Ruocco

    () (Department of Physics, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza")


We model Science and Technology (S&T) systems as complex systems and propose to use the mathematical tools developed within the spin-glasses literature to evaluate similarity within systems and between systems in a unified manner. Our measure is based on the ‘overlap’ of disciplinary profiles of a set of S&T systems. The investigation of the distribution of the overlaps provides useful insights on the dynamics of the general system, that is whether it converges towards a unique disciplinary structure or to a differentiated pattern. We illustrate the usefulness of the approach by investigating the dynamics of disciplinary profiles of European countries from 1996 to 2011. We analyse several bibliometric indicators (including publications and citations) of European countries in the 27 Scopus subject categories. We compare the disciplinary profiles of European countries i) among them; ii) with respect to the European standard; and iii) to the World reference. We find that there is a convergence towards a unique European disciplinary profile of the scientific production even if large differences in the scientific profiles still remain. The investigation of the dynamics by year shows that developing countries are converging towards the European model whilst some developed countries are departing from it.

Suggested Citation

  • Irene Bongioanni & Cinzia Daraio & Giancarlo Ruocco, 2013. "A Quantitative Measure to Compare the Disciplinary Profiles of Research Systems and Their Evolution Over Time," DIAG Technical Reports 2013-010, Department of Computer, Control and Management Engineering, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza".
  • Handle: RePEc:aeg:report:2013-010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andy Stirling, 2007. "A General Framework for Analysing Diversity in Science, Technology and Society," SPRU Working Paper Series 156, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maxim N. Kotsemir & Tatiana E. Kuznetsova & Elena G. Nasybulina & Anna G. Pikalova, 2015. "Empirical Analysis of Multinational S&T Collaboration Priorities –The Case of Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 53/STI/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

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    diversity/similarity; disciplinary profiles; spin glasses; overlap; overlap distribution; European science;

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