A ten-year perspective on studies of scientific specialties-theory, method, and focus-from the social studies of science literature is presented. The inspirationprovided byPrice's work on invisible colleges andCrane's 1972 monograph of the same name is traced conceptually through the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. A decade later the literature on specialties is seen to aspire to interdisciplinary knowledge of scientific growth, fragmentation, consolidation, and supersession.
In the context of bridging the so-called externalist and cognitive perspectives on the growth of research communities, a cancer problem domain is examined (1) to distinguish a growth in knowledge from a proliferating research literature, and (2) show how measurement of formal communication, uninformed by the historical record, clarifies or distorts sociological interpretations of innovation and growth in biomedicine. Specifically, coauthorship and citation networks are analyzed for reverse transcriptase researchers, 1970–74. This analysis reveals the visibility of large National Cancer Institute laboratories in the research literature, but demonstrates the need to augment disaggregated network data with intellectual and social (policy) history to explain the growth and structure of the domain.
Study of interdisciplinary research processes and performance is hampered by a lack of data. This project investigated possible indicators based in the open scientific literature to measure such processes. Focusing on theJournal Citation Reports as a suitable data base, alternative indicators were validated on a sample of 383 articles drawn from 19 journals. The results support the use ofCitations Outside Category as an indicator of cross-disciplinary research activity. An estimated version of this indicator is used to examine three research categories — Demography, Operations Research/Management Science, and Toxicology — as to the extent of cross-disciplinary citation occurring by the journals in these categories and to them. Results suggest thatCitations Outside Category can be a quite informative bibliometric measure. A key substantive finding is that citation across broad field categories (engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences) is extremely infrequent.
This project compares various bibliometric measures and scientists' own judgments. Publication and cittion data are compiled for two cohorts of chemists awarded Sloan Fellowships. Citation patterns differ substantially between most cited papers and those these authors identify as their best. Theoretical, empirical, and methodological papers are contrasted as well. In addition, temporal citation patterns show that recognition spreads beyond the research area of a particular paper to yield cross-disciplinary citation surprisingly rapidly. Results suggest the utility of studying citation patterns among the Institute for Scientific Information Subject Categories, but also caution against equating publication and citation counts with scientific progress.