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Trend archaeology – profiling future technologies by retrospective bibliometric analyses

Poster presented at 5th International Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis, FTA 2014, Engage today to shape tomorrow, Brussels, 27-28 November 2014
 
: John, Marcus; Fritsche, Frank; Grüne, Matthias

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Poster urn:nbn:de:0011-n-3180549 (2.5 MByte PDF)
MD5 Fingerprint: 22585e32d8264e01cfa78452fa9cd409
Created on: 11.12.2014


2014, 1 Folie
International Conference on Future-Oriented Analysis (FTA) <5, 2014, Brussels>
English
Poster, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer INT ()
bibliometrics; technology forecasting; quantitative business methods

Abstract
One of the main challenges in technology forecasting is the early and correct detection of emerging topics. A number of recent publications examine the applicability of different bibliometric methods to this problem (see e.g. Chen, 2006; Shibata,Kajikawa, Takeda, & Matsushima, 2008; Schiebel, Hörlesberger, Roche, François, & Besagni, 2010). All these approaches rely on the tacit assumption, that tomorrow’s technologies are based on today’s daily work in scientific laboratories. Admittedly all of these methods face the major problem that bibliometrics is an inherently retrospective method. With this we mean that any bibliometric approach is based on an analysis of previous publications and citations. Hence it remains an open question whether it is possible to detect trends for the future by eavesdropping into today’s scientific communication. This contribution tries to clarify this question by introducing the recently developed approach named “trend archaeology”, which examines historic scientific trends and looks for specific patterns within their temporal evolution. With this approach we want to address two key issues. First of all, we try to establish a classification scheme, which allows one to distinguish between different types of emerging topics. In a second step we want to discuss, whether such a classification would allow a projection of the future development of the respective topics.The method “trend archaeology”is based on the synoptic inspection of different scientific themes, which might come from different fields like nanotechnology or material science. Exemplarily, the research on fullerenes, which can be traced back to the paper of Kroto, Heath, O'Brien, Curl, & Smalley (1985), describing the discovery and initiating a whole new research field, will be considered. Another example is the research on cold fusion (Fleischmann & Pons, 1989), which is a prototypical example of pathological science. For each considered research theme the process of scientific communication is examined with regard to unveiling the existence of specific patterns. To this end, a number of bibliometric observables and their time dependence is analysed, e.g.:1. The publication dynamics, i.e. the number of papers per year.2. The time dependence of the document types.3. The time-dependent size of the giant component of the co-author network (Bettencourt, Kaiser, & Kaur, 2009).4. Thedynamics of the activity pattern, i.e. the number of papers each actor (e.g. on the level of countries) has published.Our preliminary results suggest that it is indeed possible to distinguish between different kinds of emerging topics by means of bibliometric quantities, namely at least the following:1. The generic case of an emerging topic, which can be traced backed to a single publication, initiating the research in this field. An example for this case is the research onfullerenes .2. The aggregating case of an emerging topic, exemplarily observed in the case of human enhancement. In this case information and techniques from various possibly disparate fields of science aggregate to a completely new field.3. The case of pathological or failed science, as seen in the case of cold fusion.Furthermore we will argue that bibliometric analyses enable one to give an experience-based forecast of the future development of scientific topics.

: http://publica.fraunhofer.de/documents/N-318054.html