Small, H. & Upham, P. Scientometrics (2009) 79: 365. doi:10.1007/s11192-009-0424-0
A case study of an emerging research area is presented dealing with the creation of organic thin film transistors, a subtopic within the general area called “plastic electronics.” The purpose of this case study is to determine the structural properties of the citation network that may be characteristic of the emergence, development, and application or demise of a research area. Research on organic thin film transistors is highly interdisciplinary, involving journals and research groups from physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering. There is a clear path to industrial applications if certain technical problems can be overcome. Despite the applied nature and potential for patentable inventions, scholarly publications from both academia and industry have continued at a rapid pace through 2007. The question is whether the bibliometric indicators point to a decline in this area due to imminent commercialization or to insurmountable technical problems with these materials.