, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 795–822 | Cite as

Long-term trends in the multidisciplinarity of some typical natural and social sciences, and its implications on the SSH versus STM distinction

  • Sándor SoósEmail author
  • Zsófia Vida
  • András Schubert


Macro-level domains of the science system, usually referred to as STM and SSH disciplines, have often been contrasted from various perspectives, regarding the characteristic composition of their publication channels, referencing or communication practices, and the related consequences in research evaluation. It is also long been conjectured that social science fields (along with the humanities) are more multidisciplinary than natural science fields, regarding their patterns of scholarly communication (“multidisciplinarity thesis”). The main goal of the study reported in this paper is twofold: (1) to revisit the differences in multidisciplinarity between the SSH versus STM domain, via a long-term longitudinal survey including the most recent trends, and (2) to utilize, for this task, state-of-the-art metrics and models of Interdisciplinary Research, taking into account their limitations, that is, the data sources that most naturally feed these models (typically the Web of Science). Our conclusions provides further confirmation, from the perspective of multidisciplinarity, that the concepts of SSH and STM are mainly tools for communication, rather than empirically valid constructs.


Trends SSH STM Social sciences and humanities Interdisciplinarity Multidisciplinarity IDR Science overlay maps Diversity Review papers 



This work was supported by the European Commission under the FP7 Grant No. 613202 (IMPACT-EV project).


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Science Policy and ScientometricsLibrary and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA)BudapestHungary

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