A number of indicators of the growth of science are critically reviewed to asses their strengths and weaknesses. The focus is on the problems involved in measuring two aspects of scientific growth, growth in manpower and growth in knowledge. It is shown that the design of better indicators depends on careful consideration of the theoretical framework within which the indicators are intended to be used. Recent advances in the sociology of science suggest ways in which the validity of existing indicators may be assessed and improved.
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Notes and references
My discussion of indicators in sociology here has been much influenced by the views of H. M. BLALOCK as set out in his paper, The Measurement Problem, inMethodology in Social Research, H. M. BLALOCK and A. B. BLALOCK (Eds), McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971, 5–27.
e.g. D. de SOLLA PRICE,Science Since Babylon, Yale U.P., 1962 andLittle Science, Big Science, Columbia U.P., 1963. D. S. L. CARDWELL,The Organisation of Science in England, Heinemann, London, 1957. J. VLACHÝ, Science in Retrospect and Forecast,Teorie a Metoda, 4 (1972) 105–160. D. de SOLLA PRICE,-ups and Downs in the Pulse of Science and Technology, paper presented to the International Symposium on Quantitative Methods in the History of Science, Berkeley, California, Augst 25–27, 1976.
D. de SOLLA PRICE, Principles for Projecting Funding of Academic Science in the 1970's,Science Studies, 1 (1971) 85–99, andLittle Science, Big Science, op. cit., note 2 Columbia U.P., 1963, p. 19. But see also the counter arguments in S. ROSE, The S Curve considered,Technology and Society, 4 (1967) 33–9 and G. NIGEL GILBERT, S. WOOLGAR, The Quantitative Study of Science,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 279–294.
e.g. M. J. MORAVCSIK,Science Development, Indiana U.P., 1975. S. DEDIJER, Underdeveloped Science in Underdeveloped Countries,Minerva, 2 (1963) 61–81. D. de SOLLA PRICE,Research on Research, inJourneys into Science, D. L. ARM (Ed.), University of New Mexico Press, 1967.
H. W. MENARD,Science: Growth and Change, Harvard U.P., 1971.
cf. L. SKLAIR,The Sociology of Progress, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1970.
e.g. R. K. MERTON,Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth Century England, Harper and Row, New York, 1970. D. de SOLLA PRICE,Little Science, Big Science, op. cit., note 2. Columbia U.P., 1963. J. D. BERNAL,Science in History, Watts, London, 1957.
For reviews of such studies, see D. O. EDGE, M. J. MULKAY, Case Studies of Scientific Specialities, (in German),Kölner Zeitschrift, 18 (1975) 48–61 and B. C. GRIFFITH, N. MULLINS, Coherent Social Groups in Scientific Change,Science, 177 (1972) 959–64.
N. MULLINS,Theories and Theory Groups in Contemporary American Sociology, Harper and Row, New York, 1973. D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, Chicago U.P., 1972. M. J. MULKAY, G. N. GILBERT, S. WOOLGAR, Problem Areas and Research Networks in Science,Sociology, 9 (1975) 187–204. R. K. MacLEOD et al. (Eds),The Emergence of Scientific Disciplines, Moulton, Paris, 1976.
See also M. J. MORAVCSIK, A Progress Report on the Quantification of Science, (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India, 1976).
D. de SOLLA PRICE,Little Science, Big Science, op. cit., note 2 Columbia U.P., 1963, p. 1.
D. O. EDGE, M. J. MULKAY, op. cit., note 8, Case Studies of Scientific Specialities, (in German),Kölner Zeitschrift, 18 (1975) 48–61. M. J. MULKAY, Conceptual Displacement and Migration in Science,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 205–234. J. BEN-DAVID, Roles and Innovations in Medicine,American Journal of Sociology, 65 (1960) 557–68.
A. CICOUREL,Method and Measurement in Sociology, Free Press, New York, 1969. B. HINDESS,The Use of Official Statistics in Sociology, Macmillan, London, 1973.
But see N. MULLINS, The Development of a Scientific Specialty: The Phage Group and the Origins of Molecular Biology,Minerva 10 (1972) 51–82. S. S. BLUME, R. SINCLAIR, Aspects of the Structure of a Scientific Discipline, inSocial Process of Scientific Development, R. D. WHITLEY (Ed.), Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1974.
N. MULLINS, The Distribution of Social and Cultural Properties in Informal Communication Networks among Biological Scientistc,American Sociological Review, 32 (1968) 786–797. J. BEN-DAVID, R. COLLINS, Social Factors in the Origins of a New Science: The Case of Psychology,American Sociological Review, 31 (1966) 451–465. J. R. COLE, H. ZUCKERMAN, The Emergence of a Scientific Specialty: The Self-Exemplifying Case of the Sociology of Science, inThe Idea of Social Structure, L. COSER (Ed.), Harcourt, Brace, Johanovich, New York, 1975, p. 139–174. The development of “scientist” as a recognised occupational category is discussed in J. BEN-DAVID, The Scientific Role: The Conditions of its Establishment in Europe,Minerva, 4 (1965) 15–54.
M. SLATER, S. KEENAN,Current Papers in Physics Study: Report 1, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, 1967.
See also A. McALPINE, A. BITZ, Some Methodological Problems in the Comparative Sociology of Science, University of Manchester Business School, 1974, (in manuscript).
A review of methods of conceptualising specialties is provided by D. E. CHUBIN, The Conceptualisation of Scientific Specialties,Sociological Quarterly, 17 (1976) 448–476, and some of the problems of doing so in a specific case are examined in: S. WOOLGAR, The Identification and Definition of Scientific Collectivities, in G. LEMAINE, et al. (Eds),Perspectives on the Emergence of Scientific Disciplines, Monton, The Hague, 1976, p. 233–246.
N. C. MULLINS,Theories and Theory Groups..., op. cit., note 9. D. O. EDGE, M. J. MULKAY,Astronomy Transformed, Wiley, New York, 1976. D. CHUBIN, Trusted Assessorship in Science: A Relation in Need of Data,Social Studies of Science, 5 (1975) 362–368.
N. MULLINS, op. cit., note 9. S. CRAWFORD, Informal Communication among Scientists in Sleep Research,Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 22 (1971) 301–310. B. C. GRIFFITH, A. J. MILLER, Networks of Informal Communication among Scientifically Productive Scientists, inCommunication among Scientists and Engineers, C. NELSON, D. POLLACK (Eds), D. C. Heath, Lexington, Mass, 1970, p. 124–140. D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, op. cit., note 9 Chicago U.P., 1972. H. M. COLLINS, The TEA Set: Tacit Knowledge and Scientific Networks,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 165–86. R. L. BRIEGER, Career Attributes and Network Structure,American Sociological Review, 41 (1976) 117–135.
cf. M. J. MULKAY, Methodology in the Sociology of Science; Some Reflections on the Study of Radio Astronomy,Social Science Information, 13 (1974) 107–119.
A. H. HALSEY, H. A. TROW, (The British Academics, Faber, London, 1971, p. 297) find that 7% of all academics have never published an article, but only 2% of the natural scientists among them have not published.
S. COTGROVE, S. BOX,Science, Industry and Society, Allen and Unwin, London, 1970. N. D. ELLIS, The Occupation of Science,Technology and Society, 5 (1969) 33–41.
e.g. D. de SOLLA PRICE, op. cit., note 2Science Since Babylon, Yale U.P., 1962 andLittle Science, Big Science, Columbia U.P., 1963. H. INHABER, K. PRAEDNOWEK, Quality of Research and the Nobel Prize,Social Studies of Science, 6 (1976) 38–50. C. A. ELLIOT, The American Scientist in Antebellum Society: A Quantitative View,Social Studies of Science, 5 (1975) 93–108.
D. de SOLLA PRICE, Is Technology Historically Independent of Science?,Technology and Culture, 6 (1965) 533–68. For the significance of publications for academic carrers, see: — F. REIF, The Competitive World of the Pure Scientist,Science, 134 (1961) 1957–61. L. L. HARGENS, W. O. HAGSTROM, Sponsored and Contest Mobility of American Academic Scientists,Sociology of Education, 40 (1967) 24–38.
Science Citation Index, (Philadelphia: Institute for Scientific Information), Data provided by secondary analyses of the SCI can also be very useful. For instance, the Institute for Scientific Information, publishers of the SCI, have also produced anInternational Directory of Research and Development Scientists, (1967), which has been used to good effect in: D. J. de SOLLA PRICE, Measuring the Size of Science,Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 6 (1969) 98–111.
It is possible to construct one's own citation network for periods earlier than the first publication of the SCI, as has been done, by, e.g. G. NIGEL GILBERT, The Development of Science and Scientific Knowledge: The Case of Radar Meteor Research, inThe Emergence of Scientific Disciplines, R. K. MacLEOD et al. (Eds), Mouton, Paris, 1976; E. GARFIELD, I. H. SHER, TORPIE,The Use of Citation Data in Writing the History of Science, (Philadelphia: Institute for Science Information, 1964).
L. J. ANTHONY, H. EAST, M. J. SLATER, The Growth of the Literature of Physics,Reports on the Progress of Physics, 32 (1969) 709–67. D. de SOLLA PRICE, D. BEAVER, Collaboration in an Invisible College,American Psychologist, 21 (1966) 1011–1018. See also D. R. STODDARD, Growth and Structure of Geography,Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, No. 41 (1967). J. COHEN, C. E. HANSEL, E. F. MAY, Natural History of Learned and Scientific Societies,Nature, 173 (1953) 328–33.
For example, for the United States: National Science Board,Science Indicators 1972 and 1974, (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1973 and 1975) National Science Foundation,National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1969). U. S. Bureau of Labour Statistics,Scientific Research and Development in American Industry: a study of manpower and costs (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1953) and similar publications from other governments. An extensive bibliography of statistical sources on the physics community in Europe can be found in J. VLACHÝ, Physics in Europe — Sources of Evidence,Czechoslavakian Journal of Physics, B25 (1975) 823–838
American Men and Women of Science: Physical and Biological Sciences, Jacques Cattell Press, New York, 1971.
e. g. OECDInternational Statistical Year for Research and Development, Vol. 2, Paris, 1968, Table T6. UNESCOThe Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities, 1969. C. FREEMAN, A. YOUNG,The Research and Development Effort in Western Europe, North America and the Soviet Union, OECD, Paris, 1965. OECD,The Measurement of Scientific and Technical Activities: proposed standard practice for surveys of research and development, OECD, Paris, 1963. OECD,Government and Allocation of Resources to Science, OECD, Paris, 1966. F. R. PFETSCH, An introduction to Statistics on Science and Technology, UNESCO, 1976.
C. FREEMAN,Measurement of Output of Research and Experimental Development, UNESCO, Paris, 1969, p. 8.
Data from bibliographies have been employed by: W. GOFFMAN, Mathematical Approach to the Spread of Scientific Ideas — The History of Mast Cell Research,Nature, 212 (1966) 449–452, J. BEN-DAVID, R. COLLINS, op. cit., note 14 Social Factors in the Origins of a New Science: The Case of Psychology,American Sociological Review, 31 (1966) 451–465. D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, op. cit., note 9 Chicago U.P., 1972. K. O. MAY, Quantitative Growth of Mathematical Literature,Science, 154 (1966) 1672–3. C. S. GILLMOR, C. J. TERMAN, Communication Modes of Geophysics,EOS, 54 (1973) 900–908. K. H. CHANG, D. DIEKE, The Dutch Research Effort in Physics,Nederlands Tijdschrift von Naturkund, 41 (1975) 28–32. W. O. HAGSTROM, Factors Related to the Use of Different Modes of Publishing Research in Four Scientific Fields, inCommunication among Scientists and Engineers C. E. NELSON, D. K. POLLOCK (Eds), Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1970, p. 85–124. The Royal Society'sCatalogue of Scientific Papers is also useful for historical investigations. See C. A. ELLIOTT, TheRoyal Society Catalogue as an Index to Nineteenth Century American Science,Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 21 (1970) 396–401.
cf. L. J. ANTHONYet al, op. cit., note 25 p. 731. M. M. KESSLER, Comparison of the Results of Bibliographic Coupling and Analytic Subject Indexing,American Documentation, 16 (1965) 223–233.
N. DENZIN,The Research Act in Sociology, Aldine, Chicago, 1970. E. J. WEBB et al.,Unobtrusive Measures, Rand McNally, Chicago, 1966. D. CHUBIN, K. STUDER,Problem Domains in the Biomedical Specialty of Cell Tranformation, Cornell University: Research program on Social Analyses of Science Systems, 1975, (in manuscript).
e. g. N. MULLINS,Theories and Theory Groups, op. cit., note 9. p. 321. H. ROTHMAN, M. WOODHEAD compare statistics obtained from an examination of published articles and official manpower statistics on the development of research on economic entomology and consider hypotheses to explain the observed disparities. (The Use of Citation Counting to Identify Research Trends,Journal of Documentation, 27 (1971) 287–294.)
e. g. D. L. KRANTZ, Schools and Systems: The Mutual Isolation of Operant and Non-Operant Psychology as a Case Study,Journal of History of Behavioural Science, 8 (1972) 86–102.
D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, op. cit., note 9 Chicago U.P., 1972. p. 1–2. D. de SOLLA PRICE,Little Science, Big Science, op. cit., note 2 Columbia U.P., 1963. p. 4–5. W. GOFFMAN, A Mathematical Method for Analysing the Growth of a Scientific Discipline.Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery, 18 (1971) 173–185. M. NOWAKOWSKA, An Epidemical Spread of Scientific Objects,Theory and Decision, 3 (1973) 262–97. M. J. MORAVCSIK, Phenomenology and Models of the Growth of Science,Research Policy, 4 (1975) 80–86.
See M. POLANI, The Logic of Tacit Inference,Philosophy, 41 (1966) 1–18. J. R. RAVETZ,Scientific Knowledge and its Social Problems, Oxford U. P., 1971. H. M. COLLINS, op. cit., note 20, The TEA Set: Tacit Knowledge and Scientific Networks,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 165–86.
S. COTGRPVE, S. BOX and N. D. ELLIS, op. cit., note 23.,. See also S. S. BLUME, R. SINCLAIR, Chemists in British Universities: A Study of the Reward System in Science,American Sociological Review 38 (1973) 126–138 for the effect of the magnitude of a scientist's “industrial orientation” on publication habits.
J. GASTON, Secretiveness and Competition for Discovery in Physics,Minerva, 9 (1971) 472–492. W. O. HAGSTROM,The Scientific Community, Basic Books, New York, 1965.
K. O. MAY, The Growth and Quality of Mathematical Literature,Isis, 59 (1969) 363–71. He finds that of the articles examined, 21% contained duplications of earlier published results, and 43% were classified as “trivia”.
M. J. MULKAY, A. T. WILLIAMS, A Sociological Study of a Physics Department,British Journal of Sociology, 22 (1971) 74.
M. J. MORAVCSIK, Measures of Scientific Growth,Research Policy, 2 (1973) 266–275.
S. S. BLUME, R. SIMCLAIR, op. cit., note 14..
N. REINGOLD, The Patent Office Records as Sources for the History of Invention and Property,Technology and Culture, 1 (1960), 156–167. S. C. GILFILLAN An attempt to Measure the Rise of American Inventing and the Decline of Patenting,Technology and Culture, 1 (1960) 201–214. S. C. GILFILLAN,The Sociology of Invention, MIT Press, CambridgeSupplement, San Francisco Press, 1971.
C. FREEMAN, op. cit., note 32,.
J. SCHMOOKLER,Invention and Economic Growth, Harvard U. P., 1966.
See also F. MACHLUP,The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States, Princeton U. P., 1962, especially chapter 5.
United Nations,The Role of Patents in the Transfer of Technology to Developing Countries, (New York: Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, 1964), quoted by C. FREEMAN, op. cit., note 32,Measurement of Output of Research and Experimental Development, UNESCO, Paris, 1969, p. 44.
op. cit., notes 46, and 48Invention and Economic Growth, Harvard U. P., 1966.
See also:-National Science Foundation,TRACES (Technology in Retrospect and Critical Events in Science), (Illinois Institute of Technology, 1968). J. LANGRISH et al.,Wealth from Knowledge, Macmillan, London, 1971. Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering,Project Hindsight Final Report, Washington, 1969. R. C. CURNOW, G. C. MORING, Project SAPPHO: A Study in Industrial Innovation,Futures, 1 (1968) 82–90.
J. SCHMOOKLER, op. cit., note 48.Invention and Economic Growth, Harvard U. P., 1966.
M. J. MORAVCSIK,op. cit., note 44, p. 272–3.
D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, op. cit., note 9, Chicago U.P., 1972.
ibid, D. CRANE,Invisible Colleges, op. cit., note 9, Chicago U. P., 1972, 20.
For a discussion of the “embeddedness” of variables, see: G. Nigel Gilbert, The Transformation of Research Findings into Scientific Knowledge,Social Studies of Science, 6 (1976) No. 3/4; and T. S. Kuhn,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions University of Chicago Press, 1970.
cf. J. AGASSI, Towards an Historiography of Science,History and Theory, (1963), Beiheft 2. R. G. A. DOLBY, The Sociology of Knowledge in the Natural Sciences.Science Studies, 1 (1971) 3–22.
K. POPPER,The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson, London, 1959.
I. LAKATOS, The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, inCriticism and the Growth of Knowledge, I. LAKATOS, A. MUSGRAVE, (Eds) Cambridge U. P., 1970.
P. WRIGHT, Astrology and Science in Seventeenth Century England,Social Studies of Science, 5 (1975) 399–422.
J. B. CONANT,Overthrow of the Phlogiston Theory, Cambridge U. P., 1950.
D. de SOLLA PRICE,Science Since Babylon, op. cit. note 2. Yale U.P., 1962 andLittle Science, Big Science, Columbia U. P., 1963.
B. WYNNE, C. G. Barkla and the J. Phenomenon,Social Studies of Science, 6 (1976) 307–348
M. J. MULKAY,op. cit., note 21,.
Although GARFIELD, for instance, has emphasised that citation measures indicate the “impact” and not the “significance” of papers E. GARFIELD, Citation Indexes in Sociological and Historical Research,American Documentation, 14 (1963) 290.
S. COLE, J. R. COLE, Scientific Output and Recognition,American Sociological Review, 32 (1967) 377–390.
J. R. COLE, Patterns of Intellectual Influence in Scientific Research,Sociology of Education, 43 (1970) 377–403.
ibid, p. 381.
There are also some technical difficulties arising from the existence of errors within the SCI listings which must be avoided. See: J. R. COLE and S. COLE, Measuring the Quality of Sociological Research,American Sociologist, 6 (1971), 23–29. D. CHUBIN, On the Use of the Science Citation Index in SociologyAmerican Sociologist, 8 (1973) 187–191.
See, in addition to the articles listed in note 70. I. H. SHER, E. GARFIELD, New Tools for Improving and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Research, inResearch Program Effectiveness, M. C. YOVITS (Ed.) Gordon and Breach, New York, 1966, p. 135–46. A. E. BAYER, J. FOLGER, Some Correlates of a Citation Measure in Science,Sociology of Education, 39 (1966) 381–390. H. ZUCKERMEN, The Sociology of the Nobel Prizes,Scientific American, November, (1967), 25–33. S. A. GOUDSMIT, J. D. MCGERVEY, Letters,Science, 183 (11 January 1974), 28–29. M. IVORY, LEPORTE, H. SMALL, J. STANLEY,Citation Analysis: An annotated bibliography (Philadelphia: Institute for Scientific Information, 1976). F. NARIN,Evaluative Bibliometrics (Cherry Hill, N. J. Computer Horizons, Inc. 1976).
M. J. MORAVCSIK, P. MURUGESAN, Some Results on the Function and Quality of Citations,Social Studies of Science, 5 (1975) 86–92. D. CHUBIN, S. MOITRA' Content Analysis of References: Adjunct or Alternative to Citation Counting,Social Studies of Science, 5 (1975) 423–440. M. KAPLAN, The Norms of Citation Behaviour,American Documentation, 16 (1965) 179–184. G. NIGEL GILBERT, Referencing as Persuasion,Social Studies of Science, 7 (1977) 113–122.
M. J. MORAVCSIK, P. MURUGESAN and D. CHUBIN, S. MOITRA,ibid..
M. J. MORAVCSIK,op. cit., note 44,, p. 269.
H. MENHARD, op. cit., note 5,Science: Growth and Change, Harvard, U. P., 1971, chapter 5.
This conclusion depends on the assumption of a similar number of references per paper for both young and old papers. There is little data available to either support or refute this assumption, although PARKER et al found that the average number of references per paper in the social science literature nearly doubled between 1950 and 1965. E. B. PARKER, W. J. PAISLEY, R. GARETT,Bibliographic Citations as Unobtrusive Measures of Scientific Communication, (Stanford University Institute for Communications Research, 1967).
S. COLE, Professional Standing and the Reception of Scientific Discoveries,American Journal of Sociology, 76 (1970) 286–306. See also: S. COLE, J. R. COLE, Visibility and the Structural Bases of Awareness of Scientific Research,American Sociological Review, 33 (1968) 297–413.
This type of data source is employed in: W. GOFFMAN, G. HARMAN, Mathematical Approach to the Prediction of Scientific Discovery,Nature, 229 (8th January 1971) 103–4.
D. de SOLLA PRICE,Little Science, Big Science, op. cit., note 2. Columbia U.P., 1963.
W. DENNIS, Bibliographies of Eminent Scientists,Scientific Monthly, 79 (1954) 180–3. The Age Decrement in Outstanding Scientific Contributions: Fact or Artefact?,American Psychologist, (1958) 457–460.
S. COLE, J. R. COLE,op. cit., note 77,. S. S. BLUME, R. SINCLAIR, op. cit., note 14, Aspects of the Structure of a Scientific Discipline, inSocial Process of Scientific Development, R. D. WHITLEY (Ed.), Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1974.
S. W. WOOLGAR, Writing an Intellectual History of Scientific Development: The Use of Discovery Accounts,Social Studies of Science, 6 (1976) 395–422. See also P. WEISS, Knowledge: A Growth Process,Science, 131 (1960) 1716–9.
See also S. C. GILFILLAN,The Sociology of Invention, op. cit., note 46,.
e. g. using co-citation analysis; see: H. SMALL, B. C. GRIFFITHS, The Structure of Scientific Literatures, I,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 17–40. B. C. GRIFFITHS et al., The Structure of Scientific Literature II,Science Studies, 4 (1974) 339–365. H. SMALL, A Co-citation Model of a Scientific Specialty,Social Studies of Science, 7 (1977) 139–166. D. SULLIVAN, D. H. WHITE, E. J. BARBORIC, Co-citation Analyses of Science: An Evaluation,Social Studies of Science, 7 (1977) 139–166. A. E. CAWKELL, Search Strategy, Construction and Use of Citation Networks,Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 25 (1974) 123–129. E. GARFIELD, I. H. SHER, TORPIE, op. cit. note 27.The Use of Citation Data in Writing the History of Science, (Philadelphia: Institute for Science Information, 1964).
This is not true of CRANE'S “new variable” procedure.
A point of view expressed by some readers of a previous paper of mine, G. NIGEL GILBERT, S. WOOLGAR, The Quantitative Study of Science, op. cit., note 3,.
This paper is a revision of one presented to the International Symposium on Quantitative Methods in the History of Science, Berkely, California, August 25–27, 1976, under the title Measuring Science.