Quantitative Approaches to Science and Technology Studies,
Scientometrics 38 (1997, no. 1) pp. 3-218.

Proceedings of an ERASMUS Workshop, Amsterdam, May 1996

Table of Contents

Introduction - Paul Wouters & Loet Leydesdorff

Part 1. STS and Scientometrics

* Arie Rip, "Qualitative Conditions of Scientometrics: The New Challenges"

* Terttu Luukkonen, "Why has Latour's theory of citations been ignored by the bibliometric community?"

* Paul Wouters, "Citation cycles and peer review cycles."

Part 2. Scientometrics in the Policy Process

* Rémi Barré, "The European Perspective on S&T Indicators"

* Paul Cunningham, "The Evaluation of European Programmes and the Future of Scientometrics"

* Barend Van der Meulen, "The Use of S&T Indicators in Science Policy"

Part 3. Scientometrics at the S&T interface

* Ulrich Schmoch, "Indicators and the Relations between Science and Technology"

* Gertrud Blauwhof, "Mapping the Dynamics of Telephone Switching Devices"

* Sylvan Katz, "Desktop Scientometrics"

Part 4. Future Perspectives

* Loet Leydesdorff & Peter Van den Besselaar, "Scientometrics and Communication Theory: Towards Theoretically Informed Indicators"

* Tibor Braun & Andras Schubert, "Dimensions in ISSRU's Scientometric Indicator Datafiles: World Science in 1990-1994."

* Ton Van Raan, "Scientometrics: State-of-the-Art"


Paul Wouters & Loet Leydesdorff

The Network of European Centers in Science and Technology Studies (NECSTS) has organized an annual series of workshops since 1992 designed to stimulate the vitality, social relevance, and intellectual coherence of the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS). In 1996, this workshop focused on scientometrics, the quantitative study of science and technology.

The emergence of scientometrics as a specialty within the STS field is strongly associated with the creation of the Science Citation Index SCI in the 1960s.[1] The importance of the SCI was immediately recognized by sociologists and historians of science like Derek de Solla Price and Robert King Merton. They contributed to the organization of the citation index (Elkana et al.[2]; cf. Wouters[3]), especially in the early years of its existence. The SCI is still the dominant data source for many scientometric studies.

During the 1980s, other databases and new approaches to databases became available. Crosslinks have been firmly established between scientometrics and the quantitative study of patent statistics ("technometrics"). Scientometrics has also been influenced by approaches used in other fields focusing on measurement (like informetrics, with its roots in library and computer sciences).

Three interfaces of scientometrics can currently be distinguished:

* The interface with theorizing in the sociology, history, and philosophy of science. Problems of probabilistic inferencing, of organizing large datasets, and of testing for the significance of differences are pervasive in these disciplines, and the researcher may wish to turn to the more quantitative side of the field for expertise (cf. Leydesdorff[4]).

* The interface with science and technology policy issues. Increasingly, sophisticated evaluation and forecasting studies are called for by policy makers. Scientometricians have been asked to map the future possibilities in specific fields, e.g., the choices on the agenda for Dutch physics (Glänzel[5]). The relation between evaluation and forecasting is a crucial issue in debates at this interface (cf. Irvine & Martin[6]). In methodological terms, researchers focus on questions about the reliability and validity of indicators.

* The increased use of S&T in advanced knowledge-based economies raises a third set of problems. How do these complex systems evolve? Is it possible to model their interactions? Recently, Gibbons et al.[7] have distinguished a traditional "Mode 1" type of science from a new "Mode 2" type at the interfaces. Others have suggested a triple helix model of university-industry-relations.[8; 9] Indicators of these developments must develop means to incorporate changes in the social environments of science and technology: for example, what counts as "biotechnology" is different in 1995 from its delineation in 1980.

Furthermore, the spread of the desktop environment, i.e. using the personal computer and workstation in networked enviroments, is revolutionizing scientometrics like many other fields of science. One tends to become less dependent on mainframe computers and established research institutions. The specificities of studying cognitive interactions like in science and science-based technologies, however, require methods different from those readily available in computer software for the social sciences (although there is some overlap; cf. [4]). In summary, now is a good time to make these techniques available to more qualitatively oriented colleagues and policy makers so that frameworks for future collaborations can be explored.

In this special issue of Scientometrics, the main papers of the workshop are collected. Several authors argue that quantitative modelling of the science/technology system is in clear need of more advanced theoretical underpinning. At the same time, many qualitative studies may profit from advanced quantitative expertise. From this perspective, future research should focus on combining scientometric research with both sociological insights (from the qualitative specialties in science and technology studies) and computational expertise from the various library, information, and data-structural sciences. This may also lead to a more profound understanding of the use of scientometric indicators in simulation models, and, last but not least, the science policy process.

The editors wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, the European Union DG XII, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the Royal Academy of Science. The workshop was co-organized by the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and the Netherlands Graduate School of Science, Technology, and Modern Culture.

Paul Wouters & Loet Leydesdorff


1. Garfield, Eugene, Citation Indexing. Wiley, New York, 1979.

2. Elkana, Yehuda, Joshua Lederberg, Robert K. Merton, Arnold Thackray, & Harriet Zuckerman, Toward a Metric of Science: The advent of science indicators. Wiley, New York, 1978.

3. Wouters, Paul, The Citation Culture. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Amsterdam, forthcoming.

4. Leydesdorff, Loet, The Challenge of Scientometrics: The development, measurement, and self-organization of scientific communications. DSWO Press, Leiden University, Leiden, 1995.

5. Glänzel, W., A. Schubert, T. Braun, E. Rinia, & M. Brocken. Physics in the European Union in the 80s. FOM, Utrecht, 1995.

6. Irvine, John & Ben R. Martin. Foresight in Science: Picking the Winners. Pinter, London, 1984.

7. Gibbons, Michael, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott, and Martin Trow, The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. Sage, London, 1994.

8. Leydesdorff, Loet & Henry Etzkowitz. "The Emergence of a Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations," Science & Public Policy (forthcoming).

9. Etzkowitz, Henry & Loet Leydesdorff (Editors), Universities in the Global Knowledge Economy: A Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. Cassell, London, 1997.