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Towards an early-stage identification of emerging topics in science

The usability of bibliometric characteristics
: Mund, Carolin; Neuhäusler, Peter


Journal of informetrics 9 (2015), Nr.4, S.1018-1033
ISSN: 1751-1577
Fraunhofer ISI ()
bibliometrics; emerging topics; identification; early-stage

The assessment of research topics according to their development stage can be used for different purposes, most importantly for decisions regarding the (financial) support of research groups and regions. In this work, we try to determine the influencing factors of emerging scientific topics during their early development stage. Documents in five pre-defined fields are analyzed with regard to the characteristics of the involved authors, their references and journals. With the help of an assignment to emerging and established topics, the publication behavior of documents in different development stages can be compared. Foremost, indicators can be derived that can help to identify publications in emerging topics in science at an early-stage after publication. The results show that the field differences are so pronounced that they hamper generalization. The field specific analysis, however, suggests that at least for some fields a pre-selection of emerging topics can be made. In technical fields, the involvement of larger groups of researchers is an apparent feature, while in medicine a contrary observation could be made. In addition, for the field of engineering we found that emerging topics are more often published in older but smaller journals, which indicates a high specialization of the publications.