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Capturing the Evolving Nature of Science, the Development of New Scientific Indicators and the Mapping of Science


  • Masatsura Igami
  • Ayaka Saka


There is a long history describing the structure and evolution of science. Recent unprecedented progress in access, use, and analysis of information on scientific publications and patents open innovative ways to study the structure and evolution of science. Especially, a mapping of knowledge has received wide recognition as a new, evolving area of research. The ultimate goal of this study is to contribute to endeavours to understand and track the changing nature of science. In this study, current trends in scientific activities were mapped and their characteristics were examined. Research areas were explored through a co-citation analysis and a map of science was generated to analyse how research areas were related to each other. Methodology which is commonly used in social network analysis was also applied to examine knowledge networks at the institutional level. The analysis clearly shows the multi-disciplinary character of some research, such as ‘Nano materials and devices’, ‘Genomics’, and ‘Environment’. A precursor of the emergence of nano-bioscience is also observed. Measurement of countries’ specialisation clearly indicates an increased share of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) in some research. The BRICs are currently in a stage of intense catching up and their importance in knowledge networks is likely to become substantial. Social network analysis at the institutional level reveals that the structure of knowledge networks strongly depends on research and each institution probably has its own function in the network. These results show how science is evolving not only across disciplines but also across countries or regions. Mise en évidence du caractère évolutif de la science, élaboration de nouveaux indicateurs scientifiques et typologie de la science Il existe une longue tradition de description de la structure et de l’évolution de la science. Cependant, les progrès récents sans précédent dans l’accès à l’information sur les publications et brevets scientifiques et dans l’utilisation et l’analyse de cette information ouvrent des voies nouvelles pour étudier la structure et l’évolution de la science. En particulier la typologie du savoir est de plus en plus reconnue comme un nouveau domaine de recherche prometteur. Le but ultime de cette étude est de contribuer aux efforts pour comprendre et retracer le caractère évolutif de la science. Dans cette étude, les tendances actuelles des activités scientifiques ont été mises en évidence et leurs caractéristiques analysées. Les domaines de recherche ont été explorés au moyen d’une analyse de co-citations et une typologie de la science a été dressée pour analyser les liens existant entre les différents domaines scientifiques. Une méthodologie couramment employée dans l’analyse des réseaux sociaux a également été utilisée pour examiner les réseaux de connaissance au niveau institutionnel. L’analyse a clairement montré le caractère pluridisciplinaire de certaines recherches, comme les « nanomatériaux et nanodispositifs », la « génomique » et l«’environnement ». Un précurseur de l’émergence de la nanobioscience a également été observé. La mesure de la spécialisation des pays a clairement indiqué l’émergence des BRICs (Brésil, Russie, Inde et Chine) dans certaines recherches. Les BRICs sont actuellement engagés dans une phase intense de rattrapage et ils vont certainement prendre une importance significative dans les réseaux de connaissance. L’analyse des réseaux sociaux au niveau des institutions a montré que la structure des réseaux de connaissance est fortement conditionnée par la recherche et que chaque institution occupe sans doute une fonction propre dans le réseau. Ces résultats ont mis en évidence la façon dont la science évolue non seulement entre les disciplines, mais aussi entre les pays et les régions.

Suggested Citation

  • Masatsura Igami & Ayaka Saka, 2007. "Capturing the Evolving Nature of Science, the Development of New Scientific Indicators and the Mapping of Science," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2007/1, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2007/1-en

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