Scientometrics

, 81:719 | Cite as

Is science becoming more interdisciplinary? Measuring and mapping six research fields over time

Article

Abstract

In the last two decades there have been studies claiming that science is becoming ever more interdisciplinary. However, the evidence has been anecdotal or partial. Here we investigate how the degree of interdisciplinarity has changed between 1975 and 2005 over six research domains. To do so, we compute well-established bibliometric indicators alongside a new index of interdisciplinarity (Integration score, aka Rao-Stirling diversity) and a science mapping visualization method. The results attest to notable changes in research practices over this 30 year period, namely major increases in number of cited disciplines and references per article (both show about 50% growth), and co-authors per article (about 75% growth). However, the new index of interdisciplinarity only shows a modest increase (mostly around 5% growth). Science maps hint that this is because the distribution of citations of an article remains mainly within neighboring disciplinary areas. These findings suggest that science is indeed becoming more interdisciplinary, but in small steps — drawing mainly from neighboring fields and only modestly increasing the connections to distant cognitive areas. The combination of metrics and overlay science maps provides general benchmarks for future studies of interdisciplinary research characteristics.

References

  1. Abt, H. A. (2007a), The frequencies of multinational papers in various sciences. Scientometrics, 71(1): 105–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abt, H. A. (2007b), The future of single-authored papers. Scientometrics, 73(3): 353–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams, J., Jackson, L., Marshall, S. (2007), Bibliometric analysis of interdisciplinary research. Report for HEFCE. Evidence, Leeds, UK.Google Scholar
  4. Ahlgren, P., Jarneving, B., Rousseau, R. (2003), Requirement for a cocitation similarity measure, with special reference to Pearson’s correlation coefficient. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(6): 550–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bategelj, V., Mrvar, A. (2008), Pajek. Program for Large Network Analysis. http://vlado.fmf.unilj.si/pub/networks/pajek/ Accessed 15-01-2008.
  6. Boyack, K. W., Klavans, R., Börner, K. (2005), Mapping the backbone of science. Scientometrics, 64(3): 351–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braun, T., Schubert, A. (2003), A quantitative view on the coming of age of Interdisciplinarity in the sciences, 1980–1999. Scientometrics 58(1): 183–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, C. (2003), Mapping Scientific Frontiers: The Quest for Knowledge Visualization, Springer, London.Google Scholar
  9. Cronin, B. (2001), Hyperauthorship: A postmodern perversion or evidence of a structural shift in scholarly communication practices?, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52: 558–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P. And Trow, M. (1994), The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research inContemporary Societies, Sage, London.Google Scholar
  11. Glänzel, W. (2002), Coauthorship patterns and trends in the sciences (1980–1998): A bibliometric study with implications for database indexing and search strategies, Library Trends, 50: 461–473.Google Scholar
  12. Grupp, H. (1990), The concept of entropy in scientometrics and innovation research. An indicator for institutional involvement in scientific and technological developments. Scientometrics, 18(3–4): 219–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hamilton, K. S., Narin, F., Olivastro, D. (2005), Using bibliometrics to measure multidisciplinarity, ipIQ, Inc. Westmon, NJ, US.Google Scholar
  14. Hicks, D. M., Katz, J. S. (1996), Where Is Science Going? Science, Technology, & Human Values, 21(4): 379–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klavans, R., Boyack, K. W. (2006), Identifying a better measure of relatedness for mapping science, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(2): 251–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Laudel, G. (2001), Collaboration, creativity and rewards: Why and how scientists collaborate. International Journal of Technology Management, 22(7–8): 762–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Leahey, E. (2006), Gender differences in productivity — Research specialization as a missing link, Gender & Society, 20(6): 754–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leydesdorff, L. (2006), Can scientific journals be classified in terms of aggregated journal-journal citation relations using the Journal Citation Reports? Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 57(5): 601–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leydesdorff, L., Rafols, I. (2008), a global map of science based on the isi subject categories. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Doi 10.1002/asi.20967. Preprint Available at: http://users.fmg.uva.nl/lleydesdorff/map06/texts/map06.pdf
  20. Morillo, F., Bordons, M., Gomez, I. (2001), An approach to interdisciplinarity through bibliometric indicators, Scientometrics, 51(1): 203–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Morillo, F., Bordons, M., Gomez, I (2003), Interdisciplinarity in science: A tentative typology of disciplines and research areas, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(13): 1237–1249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moya-Anegon, F., Vargas-Quesada, B., Herrero-Solana, V., Chinchilla-Rodriguez, Z., Corera-Alvarez, E., Munoz-Fernandez, F. J. (2004), A new technique for building maps of large scientific domains based on the cocitation of classes and categories, Scientometrics, 61: 129–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moya-Anegón, F. De, Vargas-Quesada, B., Chinchilla-Rodríguez, Z., Corera-Álvarez, E., Munoz-Fernández, F. J., Herrero-Solana, V. (2007), Visualizing the marrow of science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(14), 2167–2179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Academies — Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2005), Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  25. Porter, A. L., Cohen, A. S., Roessner, J. D., Perreault, M. (2007), Measuring researcher interdisciplinarity, Scientometrics, 72(1): 117–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Porter, A. L., Roessner, J. D., Cohen, A. S., Perreault, M. (2006), Interdisciplinary research — Meaning, metrics and nurture, Research Evaluation, 15(3): 187–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Porter, A. L., Roessner, J. D., Heberger, A. E. (2008), How interdisciplinary is a given body of research? Research Evaluation 17(4): 273–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Price, D. S. (1986), Little Science, Big Science and Beyond. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Rafols, I. (2007), Strategies for knowledge acquisition in bionanotechnology: Why are interdisciplinary practices less widespread than expected? Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 20(4): 395–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rafols, I., Leydesdorff, L. (under review), Content-based and algorithmic classifications of journals: Perspectives on the dynamics of scientific communication and indexer effects. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Available at: http://users.fmg.uva.nl/lleydesdorff/classifications/classifications.pdf
  31. Rafols, I., Meyer, M. (2007), How cross-disciplinary is bionanotechnology? Explorations in the specialty of molecular motors. Scientometrics, 70(3): 633–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rafols, I., Meyer, M. (forthcoming), Diversity and network coherence as indicators of interdisciplinarity: case studies in bionanoscience. Scientometrics, Available at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/rafols-meyer-diversity2008.pdf
  33. Rao, C. R. (1982), Diversity and dissimilarity coefficients: a unified approach. Theoretical Population Biology, 21: 24–43.MATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  34. Salton, G., Mcgill, M. J. (1983), Introduction to Modern Information Retrieval. Auckland, etc.: McGraw-Hill.MATHGoogle Scholar
  35. Stirling, A. (2007), A general framework for analysing diversity in science, technology and society. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 4(15): 707–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technology Policy and Assessment CenterGeorgia Tech; and Search Technology, Inc.AtlantaUSA
  2. 2.SPRU — Science & Technology Policy ResearchUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

Personalised recommendations