The present research suggests that most papers, through citations, are knit together rather tightly. The total research front of science, however, has never been a single row of knitting. It is, instead, divided by dropped stiches into quite small segments and strips. From a study of the citations of journals by journals I come to the conclusion that most of these strips correspond to’ the work of, at most, a few hundred men at any one time. Such strips represent objectively defined subjects whose description may vary materially from year to year but which remain otherwise an intellectual whole. If one would work out the nature of such strips, it might lead to a method of delineating the topography of current scientific literature. With such a topography established, one could perhaps indicate the overlap and relative importance of journals and, indeed, of countries, authors, or individual papers by the place they occupied within the map, and by their degree of strategic centralness within a given strip. Journal citations provide the most readily available data for a. test of such methods. From a preliminary and very rough analysis of these data I am tempted to conclude. that a very large fraction of the alleged 35,000 journals now current must be reckoned as merely a distant background noise, and as very far from central or strategic in any of then knitted strips from which the cloth of science. is woven.

« Science topography based on analysis of research fronts »

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