, Volume 88, Issue 1, pp 163–177 | Cite as

Measuring the semantic integrity of scientific fields: a method and a study of sociology, economics and biophysics

  • Attila V. VargaEmail author


The paper introduces a concept for measuring the interpretive fragmentation of scientific fields by the analysis of their citation networks. Transitive closure in two-mode networks is the basis of the proposed measurement. To test the validity of the concept two analyses are presented. One compares the integrity of two social sciences, sociology and economics, and a natural science, biophysics. The results are in line with the widely held opinion, that because of the lack in cumulative and consensual knowledge production mechanisms the social sciences are more disintegrated. Sociology is considerably more fragmented then economics, as the different paradigm structure of these disciplines would predict. As a second test, the fragmentation of scholarly communication inside and between the sub-fields of sociology is measured. The results correctly indicate that meaning making processes are taking place inside invisible colleges.


Network analysis Paradigms Citation analysis Meaning Ambiguity Integration 



I thank Róbert Tardos, Balázs Vedres, Vladimir Batagelj, Andrew Abbott, Erzsébet Forczek, Attila Gulyás, László Barabási, Zoltán Kmetty and the participants of the 9th EUSOC seminar and XIX SUNBELT for their ideas, help and suggestions. This work was supported in part by the program “Increasing the Innovational, Research and Development Output of the Corvinus University of Budapest by the Establishment of Five Interdisciplinary Centres of Excellence”/TÁMOP-4.2.1/B-09/1/KMR-2010-0005.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Sociology and Social PolicyCorvinus University of BudapestBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Sociological Doctoral SchoolEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary

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