Category Archives: Interdisciplinarity

Identification and Prediction of Interdisciplinary Research Topics: A Study Based on the Concept Lattice Theory

Formal concept analysis (FCA) and concept lattice theory (CLT) are introduced for constructing a network of IDR topics and for evaluating their effectiveness for knowledge structure exploration. We introduced the theory and applications of FCA and CLT, and then proposed a method for interdisciplinary knowledge discovery based on CLT. As an example of empirical analysis, interdisciplinary research (IDR) topics in Information & Library Science (LIS) and Medical Informatics, and in LIS and Geography-Physical, were utilized as empirical fields. Subsequently, we carried out a comparative analysis with two other IDR topic recognition methods.

Findings: The CLT approach is suitable for IDR topic identification and predictions.

Research limitations: IDR topic recognition based on the CLT is not sensitive to the interdisciplinarity of topic terms, since the data can only reflect whether there is a relationship between the discipline and the topic terms. Moreover, the CLT cannot clearly represent a large amounts of concepts.Practical implications: A deeper understanding of the IDR topics was obtained as the structural and hierarchical relationships between them were identified, which can help to get more precise identification and prediction to IDR topics.

Originality/value: IDR topics identification based on CLT have performed well and this theory has several advantages for identifying and predicting IDR topics. First, in a concept lattice, there is a partial order relation between interconnected nodes, and consequently, a complete concept lattice can present hierarchical properties. Second, clustering analysis of IDR topics based on concept lattices can yield clusters that highlight the essential knowledge features and help display the semantic relationship between different IDR topics. Furthermore, the Hasse diagram automatically displays all the IDR topics associated with the different disciplines, thus forming clusters of specific concepts and visually retaining and presenting the associations of IDR topics through multiple inheritance relationships between the concepts.

Author(s): Haiyun Xu, Chao Wang, Kun Dong, Zenghui Yue
Organization(s): Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China, Qilu University of Technology, Shandong University of Technology, Jining Medical University
Source: Journal of Data and Information Science
Year: 2019

Interdisciplinarity and collaboration: on the relationship between disciplinary diversity in departmental affiliations and reference lists

This study explores the characteristics of scientific activity patterns through co-author affiliations to obtain new insights into interdisciplinary research. To classify the interdisciplinarity in research, we explored and compared two different approaches: the diversity of disciplines reflected in the listed affiliations of the authors and the diversity of the subject categories reflected in the reference list. To assess the diversity in departmental affiliations, we developed an explorative methodology that retrieves feature words from a combination of manual work and the thesaurus function in the Thomson Data Analyzer text mining tool. To assess the diversity in references, we followed the conventional approach applied in previous work. With both approaches, we relied on diversity as the measure for assessing interdisciplinarity of 157,710 articles published in PloS One (2007–2016). Based on a comparison between the results of both approaches, our study confirms that different methodologies and indicators can produce seriously inconsistent, and even contradictory results. In addition, different indicators may capture different understandings of such a multi-faceted concept as interdisciplinarity. Our results are summarized in a schematic representation of this twofold perspective as a method of indexing the different types of interdisciplinarity commonly found in research studies.

Author(s): Lin Zhang, Beibei Sun, Zaida Chinchilla-Rodríguez, Lixin Chen, Ying Huang
Organization(s): Wuhan University, North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power
Source: Scientometrics
Year: 2018

Measuring and visualizing research collaboration and productivity (full-text)

This paper presents findings of a quasi-experimental assessment to gauge the research productivity and degree of interdisciplinarity of research center outputs. Of special interest, we share an enriched visualization of research co-authoring patterns.

We compile publications by 45 researchers in each of 1) the iUTAH project, which we consider here to be analogous to a “research center,” 2) CG1— a comparison group of participants in two other Utah environmental research centers, and 3) CG2—a comparison group of Utah university environmental researchers not associated with a research center. We draw bibliometric data from Web of Science and from Google Scholar. We gather publications for a period before iUTAH had been established (2010–2012) and a period after (2014–2016). We compare these research outputs in terms of publications and citations thereto. We also measure interdisciplinarity using Integration scoring and generate science overlay maps to locate the research publications across disciplines.

We find that participation in the iUTAH project appears to increase research outputs (publications in the After period) and increase research citation rates relative to the comparison group researchers (although CG1 research remains most cited, as it was in the Before period). Most notably, participation in iUTAH markedly increases co-authoring among researchers—in general; and for junior, as well as senior, faculty; for men and women: across organizations; and across disciplines.

The quasi-experimental design necessarily generates suggestive, not definitively causal, findings because of the imperfect controls.

This study demonstrates a viable approach for research assessment of a center or program for which random assignment of control groups is not possible. It illustrates use of bibliometric indicators to inform R&D program management. New visualizations of researcher collaboration provide compelling comparisons of the extent and nature of social networking among target cohort.ings of a

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Author(s): Jon Garner, Alan L. Porter, Andreas Leidolf, Michelle Baker
Organization(s): Georgia Institute of Technology, Utah State Universit
Source: Journal of Data and Information Science (JDIS)
Year: 2018

Lessons from Ten Years of Nanotechnology Bibliometric Analysis

This paper summarizes the 10-year experiences of the Program in Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in support of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU) in understanding, characterizing, and conveying the development of nanotechnology research and application. This work was labeled “Research and Innovation Systems Assessment” or (RISA) by CNS-ASU.

RISA concentrates on identifying and documenting quantifiable aspects of nanotechnology, including academic, commercial/industrial, and government nanoscience and nanotechnology (nanotechnologies) activity, research, and projects. RISA at CNS-ASU engaged in the first systematic attempt of its kind to define, characterize, and track a field of science and technology. A key element to RISA was the creation of a replicable approach to bibliometrically defining nanotechnology. Researchers in STIP, and beyond, could then query the resulting datasets to address topical areas ranging from basic country and regional concentrations of publications and patents, to findings about social science literature, environmental, health, and safety research and usage, to study corporate entry into nanotechnology, and to explore application areas as special interests arose. Key features of the success of the program include:

  • Having access to “large-scale” R&D abstract datasets
  • Analytical software
  • A portfolio that balances innovative long-term projects, such as webscraping to understand nanotechnology developments in small and medium-sized companies, with research characterizing the emergence of nanotechnology that more readily produces articles
  • Relationships with diverse networks of scholars and companies working in the nanotechnology science and social science domains
  • An influx of visiting researchers
  • A strong core of students with social science, as well as some programming background
  • A well-equipped facility and management by the principals through weekly problem-solving meetings, mini-deadlines, and the production journal articles rather than thick final reports.

Author(s): Jan Youtie, Alan Porter, Philip Shapira, Nils Newman
Organization: Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: OECD Blue Sky Forum on Science and Innovation Indicators
Year: 2016

How Does National Scientific Funding Support Emerging Interdisciplinary Research: A Comparison Study of Big Data Research in the US and China

How do funding agencies ramp-up their capabilities to support research in a rapidly emerging area? This paper addresses this question through a comparison of research proposals awarded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) in the field of Big Data. Big data is characterized by its size and difficulties in capturing, curating, managing and processing it in reasonable periods of time. Although Big Data has its legacy in longstanding information technology research, the field grew very rapidly over a short period. We find that the extent of interdisciplinarity is a key aspect in how these funding agencies address the rise of Big Data. Our results show that both agencies have been able to marshal funding to support Big Data research in multiple areas, but the NSF relies to a greater extent on multi-program funding from different fields. We discuss how these interdisciplinary approaches reflect the research hot-spots and innovation pathways in these two countries.


Author(s): Ying Huang, Yi Zhang, Jan Youtie, Alan L. Porter, Xuefeng Wang
Organization(s): Beijing Institute of Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: PLoS ONE
Year: 2016

How Multidisciplinary are the Multidisciplinary Journals Science and Nature?

Interest in cross-disciplinary research knowledge interchange runs high. Review processes at funding agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation, consider plans to disseminate research across disciplinary bounds. Publication in the leading multidisciplinary journals, Nature and Science, may signify the epitome of successful interdisciplinary integration of research knowledge and cross-disciplinary dissemination of findings. But how interdisciplinary are they? The journals are multidisciplinary, but do the individual articles themselves draw upon multiple fields of knowledge and does their influence span disciplines? This research compares articles in three fields (Cell Biology, Physical Chemistry, and Cognitive Science) published in a leading disciplinary journal in each field to those published in Nature and Science. We find comparable degrees of interdisciplinary integration and only modest differences in cross-disciplinary diffusion. That said, though the rate of out-of-field diffusion might be comparable, the sheer reach of Nature and Science, indicated by their potent Journal Impact Factors, means that the diffusion of knowledge therein can far exceed that of leading disciplinary journals in some fields (such as Physical Chemistry and Cognitive Science in our samples).


Author(s): Gregg E. A. Solomon , Stephen Carley, and Alan L. Porter
Organization(s): Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: PlosONE
Year: 2016

Interdisciplinary topics of information science: a study based on the terms interdisciplinarity index series

Interdisciplinarity is increasingly widespread. Many technological frontiers and hotspots are emerging in the intersecting research areas. The existing measurement indexes of interdisciplinarity are mostly based on the co-occurrence of authors, institutions, or references, and most focus on the tendency to interdisciplinarity. This paper introduces a new measurement index entitled topic terms interdisciplinarity (TI) for interdisciplinarity topic mining. Taking Information Science & Library Science (LIS) as a case study, this paper identifies interdisciplinary topics by calculating TI values together with Bet values, term frequency values, and others, and analyzes the evolution of interdisciplinary sciences based on social network analysis and time series analysis. It was found that the intersections of external disciplines and pivots of internal topics for LIS can be identified by the utilization of TI value and Bet values. The research has shown that the TI value can identify interdisciplinary topic terms well, and it will be an efficient indicator for interdisciplinary analysis by being complementary to other methods.

Author(s): Haiyun Xu , Ting Guo, Zenghui Yue, Lijie Ru, Shu Fang
Organization(s): Chengdu Library of Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jining Medical University
Source: Scientometrics
Year: 2016

Impacts of an interdisciplinary research center on participant publication and collaboration patterns: A case study of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthes

Interdisciplinary research centers are typically viewed as a vehicle for creating opportunities in science where the intricacy of the research problem calls for persistent collaboration across multiple disciplines. This case study analyzed the effects of an interdisciplinary research center on the publication and collaboration behaviors of faculty affiliated with the center. The study also sought to determine through faculty interviews what factors contributed to these effects for participants whose publication and collaboration behaviors were most changed after affiliation. Results of the study indicate that affiliation with the center has a significant positive effect on participant collaboration activities, and a moderate positive effect on publication activities (i.e. publishing in new fields). Factors contributing to success cited by interviewees included organized leadership, a positive atmosphere, breaking into sub-groups, and the ability to collaborate with researchers with whom they would not have interacted outside of the center. This case study may be useful in providing a framework for early evaluation of the effects of interdisciplinary research centers on affiliated participants.

Author(s): Pamela R Bishop, Schuyler W Huck, Bonnie H Ownley, Jennifer K Richards and Gary J Skolits
Organization(s): University of Tennessee
Source: Research Evaluation
Year: 2014

Interdisciplinarity among Academic Scientists: Individual and Organizational Factors

Today when interdisciplinary research (IDR) is becoming increasingly important
in generating innovative research results and solving complex problems in academia,
discussions of IDR antecedents, processes and outcomes are becoming increasingly
important in research policy and sociology of science. This study addresses two primary
questions: 1) what individual and organizational factors affect academic scientists’
engagement in IDR, 2) what the effects of these factors are in difference disciplines.
Drawing on a wide variety of social science theories including studies of academic tenure
system, organizational climate theory, theories about women and gender in science and
scientific and technical human capital theory, it develops four hypotheses to investigate
the effects of tenure system, university climate for IDR, gender, and industry experience
on the degree to which individual scientists engage in IDR.

Author(s): Fang Xiao
Organization(s): Georgia State University
Source: Dissertation, Georgia State University
Year: 2014

Distance and velocity measures: using citations to determine breadth and speed of research impact

Research that integrates the social and natural sciences is vital to address many societal challenges, yet is difficult to arrange, conduct, and disseminate. This paper compares diffusion of the research supported by a unique U.S. National Science Foundation program on Human and Social Dynamics (“HSD”) with a matched group of heavily cited papers. Continue reading Distance and velocity measures: using citations to determine breadth and speed of research impact