While scientometrics is now an established field, there are challenges. A closer look at how scientometricians aggregate building
blocks into artfully made products, and point-represent these (e.g. as the map of field X) allows one to overcome the dependence
on judgements of scientists for validation, and replace or complement these with intrinsic validation, based on quality checks
of the several steps. Such quality checks require qualitative analysis of the domains being studied. Qualitative analysis
is also necessary when noninstitutionalized domains and/or domains which do not emphasize texts are to be studied. A further
challenge is to reflect on the effects of scientometrics on the development of science; indicators could lead to ‘induced’
aggregation. The availability of scientometric tools and insights might allow scientists and science to become more reflexive.
To analyse developments of scientific fields, scientometrics provides useful tools, provided one is prepared to take the content of scientific articles into account. Such cognitive scientometrics is illustrated by using as data a ten-year period of articles from a biotechnology core journal. After coding with key-words, the relations between articles are brought out by co-word analysis. Maps of the field are given, showing connections between areas and their change over time, and with respect to the institutions in which research is performed. In addition, other approaches are explored, including an indicator of theoretical level of bodies of articles.
Bibliometric methods in general undervalue technological research. This study examines the relation in literature between technological/industrial journals and scientific journals in the case of the plastics industry and polymer science. Trade-journals cannot be used in a straightforward bibliometric manner, but can be an aid in mapping the different groups and reveal the hidden communication between technological and scientific communities.