General Critical Properties of the Dynamics of Scientific Discovery

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Scientific fields are difficult to define and compare, yet there is a general sense that they undergo similar stages of development. From this point of view it becomes important to determine if these superficial similarities can be translated into a general framework that would quantify the general advent and subsequent dynamics of scientific ideas. Such a framework would have important practical applications of allowing us to compare fields that superficially may appear different, in terms of their subject matter, research techniques, typical collaboration size, etc. Particularh' important in a field's history is the moment at which conceptual and technical unification ... continued below

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Bettencourt, L. M. A. (LANL) & Kaiser, D. I. (MIT) May 31, 2011.

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Description

Scientific fields are difficult to define and compare, yet there is a general sense that they undergo similar stages of development. From this point of view it becomes important to determine if these superficial similarities can be translated into a general framework that would quantify the general advent and subsequent dynamics of scientific ideas. Such a framework would have important practical applications of allowing us to compare fields that superficially may appear different, in terms of their subject matter, research techniques, typical collaboration size, etc. Particularh' important in a field's history is the moment at which conceptual and technical unification allows widespread exchange of ideas and collaboration, at which point networks of collaboration show the analog of a percolation phenomenon, developing a giant connected component containing most authors. Here we investigate the generality of this topological transition in the collaboration structure of scientific fields as they grow and become denser. We develop a general theoretical framework in which each scientific field is an instantiation of the same large-scale topological critical phenomenon. We consider whether the evidence from a variety of specific fields is consistent with this picture, and estimate critical exponents associated with the transition. We then discuss the generality of the phenomenon and to what extent we may expect other scientific fields — including very large ones — to follow the same dynamics.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: DE-AT05-01-TE40204
  • DOI: 10.2172/1015864 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1015864
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc829930

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

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  • May 31, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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Bettencourt, L. M. A. (LANL) & Kaiser, D. I. (MIT). General Critical Properties of the Dynamics of Scientific Discovery, report, May 31, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc829930/: accessed September 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.